About Wind Energy
Wind turbines capture the wind that naturally occurs in our atmosphere, first converting it into mechanical energy and then into electricity. Wind power generated 6.3% of U.S. electricity in 2017, and it has been one of the fastest growing sources of electricity over the past decade, both in the U.S. and worldwide. U.S. wind power capacity increased by 9% last year, whereas two of the more traditional sources of electricity, coal power and nuclear energy, both declined in 2017. Almost 54,000 wind turbines now operate throughout the U.S., totaling almost 89,000 MW of generating capacity, producing enough electricity to meet the needs of 27 million American homes.
Texas leads the nation in installed wind generating capacity, with over 22,600 MW in operation providing about 15% of the state’s electricity. One major advantage of wind energy is that it does not require water for cooling like most other forms of electric generation. Electricity produced by wind in the state reduced water consumption by about 20 billion gallons in 2017. In addition, wind turbines do not produce CO2 when generating electricity, unlike fossil-fueled power plants. In 2017, Texas’ wind energy prevented almost 40 million metric tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.
Oklahoma now ranks 2nd nationally in terms of installed wind capacity with 7,500 MW, producing about 32% of the state’s electricity, saving over 4 billion gallons of water and preventing the emission of over 8 million metric tons of CO2.
Where does the electricity from wind farms go, and can wind energy be stored?
The vast majority of electricity produced by wind turbines is used at virtually the same time that it is being produced, much the same as other more traditional sources of electricity. While storage of electricity in large banks of batteries is becoming more feasible and common, only a very small percentage of electric energy is stored in this manner. And while much of the wind energy is produced in rural areas such as west Texas, western Oklahoma, or Kansas, most of the electricity producing using wind power is consumed in large metropolitan areas such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, or Kansas City
How does wind energy affect our environment?
All sources of electric generation have some effect on the environment, but renewable sources of energy production typically have much less impact than fossil-fueled or nuclear generation, and both wind energy and solar energy have some of the lowest environmental impacts.
Electricity generated from wind energy greatly reduces the amount of emissions introduced into the atmosphere from fossil-fueled power plants and saves water that would be needed for cooling at fossil-fueled and nuclear power plants. Developers of wind energy projects must do careful studies of bird habitats and flyways to minimize the risk of birds flying into the turbines and must consider of how wind generation affects the existing and future uses of the land surrounding such projects.