Forest Science Major, Graduating May, 2016
In Pennsylvania alone there are 24 operating wind farms with a total of 717 wind turbines. With this increase of wind farms comes a lot of questions. Such questions as “Are they worth building, how long until they pay for themselves, what are the benefits of having then, and etc.” Most of these questions come from taxpayers and people who think they are worthless investments.
total cost for everything when building a commercial wind turbine comes out to be around four million dollars for a two megawatt (MW) capacity turbine. The 2MW capacity turbine is the one you see mostly for commercial use. Now yes, this is a very high number to install these wind turbines, but compared to commercial solar energy per MW it is pretty cheap. There is no denying that. This money does come from grants from the government and yes also out of taxpayers’ pockets. With this number being so high, it makes people think that there is no way it can pay for itself. But in fact a wind turbine can pay for itself in just one year. This is, however, if it is placed in an efficient place. By that, it has to be able to get wind with no interference. This way it can get the maximum amount of wind hitting the blades allowing it to turn more, thus producing more electricity. With the more electricity produced, the faster it will pay itself back.
Now knowing that they can pay themselves off, let’s look at the many benefits that come with investing in windmills. Some of the advantages include economic, social, and also environmental. One major economic advantage is that the increasing number of windmills also increases the demand for workers. People are needed to build these wind turbines as well as perform maintenance on them when they are built. The biggest advantage, however, is with the environment. As you know coal has been a major supplier of electricity for many years. This is done by burning the fossil fuel in plants called co-generation plants. They burn the fuel which causes a large amount of emissions. These plants also take a longer time to pay for themselves compared to wind turbines.
At first glance it is easy to see why people think wind turbines are a bad investment. It’s not hard to tell that two million dollars per MW is a lot of money. But when you look into the benefits that wind turbines produce, and the payback rate it makes, it is a no-brainer to invest in wind turbines. In time, you may not even have any other choice but to have to invest in them, so why not start now? In a couple years, the major producer is going to either be solar power or wind power. So getting used to investing in wind turbines now will just get you ready for the future., because wind power is the next big thing.
Also, wind turbines are not as bad as people make them out to be. People say they produce a lot of noise, look bad, and hunters say they scare deer out of the area. I disagree with every one of these statements. I live in a little town that recently just put up wind turbines. Now yes, there were some minor problems at first. That’s everyone’s first reaction to something new and different. Now, after having them up for a couple months they are actually an attraction. As for me personally, I think they are pretty incredible. I know for a fact that they also do not scare the animals around them. I hunt relatively close to these wind turbines and every year I manage to shoot a deer. As for the noise, yes they produce a noise. This noise however can only really be heard when you’re really close to them or just about under them. And the last thing, they do not look bad or cause a lot of damage to build them. I actually think they are pretty to neat to watch them blowing. You can actually see the whole blade spin to catch the wind. So based on what everyone says, it is not necessarily true. If you ever get a chance to see these wind turbines, stop and take a few seconds to admire them instead of just listening to what everyone says about them.