They make for iconic landscape photos and are touted by environmentalists as part of the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels, but how do wind turbines actually deliver renewable power? We’re here to give you the 411.
Wind turbines, which resemble gigantic fans, use the power of the wind to create electricity. Wind farms are erected in places where there are significant, strong, steady wind currents. The force of the wind turns the two or three turbine propellers that are attached to a rotor. The rotor is connected to a main shaft, which in turn spins a generator and the result is the creation of electricity. Wind turbines are built both onshore and offshore, and in the United States, specifically, the offshore wind farms are just beginning to gain traction.
Wind turbines that are part of a wind farm stand high (many are nearly 300 feet above the ground) to take advantage of stable wind currents. There are small, single turbine projects that are used to power homes and businesses, but many large wind farms send the electricity they generate to a central power grid, which shares the electricity with the public.
One criticism of wind power is that there are higher initial investment requirements. That said, the costs to build wind farms have gone down significantly in the last 10 years, and once built, wind farms have very low operating costs, create long-term, high-paying jobs, provide income to farmers and ranchers and are cost competitive with other fuel sources. Another plus? Wind power is a clean energy solution. Wind energy doesn’t pollute the air or water, and it reduces CO2 emissions by 115 million metric tons each year. That’s the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off the road!
Terrapass supports renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, through its sale of carbon offsets. One such project is the Big Smile Wind Farm located in Oklahoma. The 66-turbine farm generates enough energy to power 46,000 homes each year. Annually, this renewable wind energy source saves the planet from nearly 339,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Interested in supporting the Big Smile Wind Farm and other renewable energy projects? The first step is to measure your carbon footprint using our Carbon Calculator. With our calculator, you’ll determine how many carbon offsets are needed to balance out your personal, carbon emitting activities. Then, purchase your carbon offsets here.
For more information on renewable energy and how to be a eco-conscious, global citizen, stay connected to the terrapass Footprint Blog. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where we’re always sharing tips and information on living an eco-friendly, green lifestyle.