March has a reputation for being a windy month in many parts of the world, so why not take a look at some of the recent developments in the wind energy industry?
CHANGE IS BLOWIN' IN THE WIND
In America, the wind industry is actually the fastest growing manufacturing sector. While other companies struggle to keep their factories and the jobs they provide, the wind industry has exploded: adding or expanding 400 new manufacturing facilities in the U.S. in the last five years All told, the U.S. wind industry installed 5,115 megawatts of wind power in 2010, down from about 10,000 megawatts in 2009 (Market Watch).
So why aren't you seeing wind farms popping up all over your neighborhood? Two issues: grid proximity and visual aesthetic. It turns out that as much as people might like the affordable, clean energy provided by a wind farm, they don't want to look at the massive turbine towers in their own back yard.
The best place for a wind farm is in close proximity to the urban power plants that transmit the electricity to homes and businesses that need it. But when residents object, the turbines are installed offshore or in the middle of nowhere, making it more difficult to get the power into the grid.
To help make turbines more visually pleasing (and efficient) a Dutch design firm combined their love of beautiful construction with the cutting edge vertical-axis turbine created by Urban Green Energy. The result is a conceptual design in which many small turbines are clustered on to a treelike base, lovingly dubbed the "Power Flower." Would you put one in your yard?
Photo by "Power Flower - via NL Architects"
HARNESSING THE WIND
If you think that giant turbines are the only way to harness the power of the wind, think again. There are hundreds of small and even mini wind turbines available on the market today. These lightweight, easy-to-erect turbines can be set up in an afternoon, and generate free electricity for your home or office. They're designed to work with very low wind flow, minimizing standstill time, and produce no extra background noise. Check out AllSmallWindTurbines to see what's available.
If you're not ready for a home turbine, and are just looking for unique ways to stay powered up while away from an electrical outlet, you should know that portable and personal wind turbines are available as well. Want to keep your GPS working on a camping trip? Check out the Eolic, a portable turbine that can be mounted on its telescopic pole in just three steps. Want to hold the wind's power in the palm of your hand? Go even smaller with the HyMini. This tiny turbine is designed to be hooked up to various devices to charge your phones, cameras, and other small electronics when you are on the go: walking around, driving or even riding your bike.
Photo by "HyMini Personal Wind Power - via Inhabitat"
Beth Buczynski is a freelance copy writer and environmental blogger. She holds a Master's in Public Communication and Technology with specialization in Environmental Communication from Colorado State University, and is passionate about leaving this planet in better shape than she found it.