The hard facts about wind energy

I usually only write about things you can do to lower your utility bill ,  but there’s a few things everybody should know about our green energy.  Last post was about solar power and how expensive it is, and how its just not a good choice yet.  The next big topic when discussing green energy is Wind energy and wind turbines.

English: The , also known as the Green Mountai...

English: The , also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wind energy and turbines are a hot topic right now.  The governments talking about them, private companies are talking about them, and some home owners are talking about them.  Especially if you have one in your town.  Wind turbines are usually seen in the prairies and flat lands, but they are slowly making their way to the east coast.  It really looks like a good idea.  Wind is free, its green (obviously), and its renewable.  Turbines look like everything you would want in producing clean energy.  There’s just one problem.  Actually there’s a few problems.  Problems you wont hear many people talk about.

  1. Turbines are expensive.  They can cost between 1.5 -2 million dollars to build and install.
  2. Turbines are HUGE.  The typical commercial turbine is 400 feet tall. That’s the height of a 40 story building.  So if you live in the mid west and you enjoy the view, if there’s a wind farm close by its obvious.   Its not that they are ugly, its just that they are not natural.  Its the same as looking at rows of cel towers.  I’m not sure anybody would want to see that on a daily basis.  Not to mention some companies are using the space on the side to advertise business.
  3. Turbines don’t last forever.  They have to be replaced every 20 years.  Now without showing you a bunch of math figures and charts, the payoff for these turbines are between 15-20 years.  Now this depends on how much electricity it produces, but most provide enough energy to pay for themselves in 15-20 years.  That’s just about enough time for some body to spend another 1.5 million dollars to replace it.

So why are we using wind energy?  That’s a good question.  We have to do something.  We cant just sit around and keep burning up the same electricity.  I’m glad that we have companies attempting to harness wind energy, and solar energy, technology just hasn’t caught up yet.

The truth about solar energy

solar panels

solar panels (Photo credit: spanginator)

I hope for a day that I can live “off the grid.” The sad truth about it is, the technology just isn’t there yet. You can live “off the grid”, but not with all your modern conveniences. Conveniences like, a dryer, curling iron, and microwave. Now as usual I will explain myself.
How does solar power work? You have to run power to your house using batteries. Batteries like golf cart batteries or 18 wheeler batteries. You take a converter that converts battery (AC) power to (DC) power. Now that you have power and its converted to DC the batteries will run down, unless you use solar panels to charge them. So you take solar panels and run them to a battery charger, that slowly charges the batteries throughout the day. Sounds simple enough right?
The average house uses about 31kw per day. It takes roughly 30 golf cart batteries to run the average house. At a cost of $250 per battery that’s $7500.00 initial cost just for batteries. Ok that’s a little crazy, but hey its green energy. Now you need solar panels. 120 sqft of solar panels will charge 1kw. So for 31 kw you will need about 3,720 sqft of solar panels. Solar panels for a system this size will cost around $16,000.00. The upside is, the solar panels should last you 20-25 years. The down side is, the batteries have to be replaced about every 3 years. There is constant maintenance on the batteries also.  Like replacing the electrolytes in the batteries.
Now I’m sure I have made some mistakes with this, solar energy isn’t this cut and dry. I’ve done research and this is the easiest way I can explain it. I’ve read about solar panels that are better and more efficient.  Just not enough to live the way we live on a daily basis.  The technology just isn’t there yet. I wish it was but it’s not. For example, with the system I explained you can run most of your house. The items you can’t run off these batteries are, your air or heating unit, cloths dryer, oven, curling iron, microwave, power tools, stove, and vacuum. Any item that pulls 1500 watts will ruin your batteries, which is a lot of items. I would love to live off the grid, but with solar energy it’s just too costly. I hope you find this informative and useful.