In the U.S., the greatest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is the power sector, at about 38%. The largest source of power is coal, which, even though it produces less than 40% of the power, produces over 70% of the power sector's greenhouse gas emissions. (20% of the greenhouse gas emissions are from natural gas-fired power plants.) Although wind turbines have become familiar in much of the U.S., wind power still (2013) only accounts for about 4% of the power sector.
The potential for wind energy is immense, and experts suggest wind power can easily supply more than 20% of U.S. and world electricity. The advantages and disadvantages of wind energy are detailed here to help you decide what the future of wind should be in the United States.
Wind energy provides many benefits:
Clean Electricity: Widespread wind development addresses climate change by providing a non-polluting source of energy that displaces greenhouse gas emissions from conventional power.
Energy Independence: Wind generation promotes national security by reducing our reliance on foreign and volatile sources of fossil fuels.
A New Crop: Wind farms can help “save the family farm” by allowing traditional land use revenues to be supplemented by new revenue streams afforded by land leasing agreements. Also, wind farms substantially broaden the tax base in rural communities.
Community-owned wind provides advantages above and beyond those of conventional wind:
Typically Reduces Stress on the Transmission Grid: Typically community wind projects deliver their power to more local markets than "Wall Street Wind", thus relieving the load on existing transmission lines and reducing the need to upgrade transmission lines to bring in power from far away.
More Rapidly Deployable: Because there is less need for transmission system upgrades, which are time consuming, more clean energy can be brought online more quickly with Community Wind than with conventional wind.
Strengthens Rural Communities: Locally-owned wind generates new income sources for farmers, landowners, and communities. It also strengthens rural and often depressed communities in more subtle – yet important – ways by expanding local entrepreneurial ingenuity and fostering a sense of hope for the future.
Stimulates the Local and State Economy: Community-owned wind projects provide high quality jobs, creating and retaining wealth that can then be re-invested in the community to grow new business opportunities. By keeping energy dollars circulating within the community – instead of being exported to other nations or states – energy independence becomes realized at the local level.
Strengthens Personal Responsibility: Wind turbines connect people to the source of their electricity, which characteristically inspires them to become more efficient and even more environmentally responsible.