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Below are brief answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions about wind energy.  If you have additional concerns, please contact a member of the TradeWind Energy™ management team.

How is energy measured?
How many homes can one megawatt of wind energy supply?
How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?
How much energy can wind realistically supply to the U.S.?
How much land is needed for a utility-scale wind plant?
In what other ways does wind energy benefit the economy?
What are America's current sources of electricity?
What are the environmental benefits of wind power?

How is energy measured?
The ability to generate electricity is measured in watts. Watts are very small units, so the terms kilowatt (kW = 1,000 watts), megawatt (MW = 1 million watts), and gigawatt (GW = 1 billion watts) are most commonly used.

Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour refers to one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50-watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kWh).

How many homes can one megawatt of wind energy supply?
An average U.S. household uses about 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. A one-megawatt wind turbine can generate between 2.4 million and 4 million kWh annually, depending on the average wind speed at the site. Therefore, a single one-megawatt wind turbine generates enough electricity to power 240 to 400 households.

How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?
The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed. Utility-scale wind turbines being manufactured now for the U.S. market have power ratings that range from 1.5 megawatts to 3.0 megawatts.

Example: A 150 MW wind project using 100 1.5 MW wind turbines can generate as much as 600,000,000 kWh annually at a good site, or enough to power 50,000 typical U.S. households.

How much energy can wind realistically supply to the U.S.?
Currently, wind energy accounts for less than 1% of the U.S. energy supply.  However, wind energy could supply up to 20% of the nation's electricity according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

How much land is needed for a utility-scale wind plant?
In open, flat terrain, a utility-scale wind plant will require about 50 acres per megawatt of installed capacity. However, only about 1-2% of this area is actually occupied by turbines, access roads and other equipment. The rest remains free for other compatible uses such as farming or ranching.

In what other ways does wind energy benefit the economy?
Wind farms can revitalize the economy of rural communities, providing steady income through lease or royalty payments to farmers and other landowners, payments to counties in the form of taxes or voluntary contributions, local jobs and spending during construction, and ongoing jobs and local spending throughout project operations.

What are America's current sources of electricity?
Coal is currently used to generate more than half of all of the electricity (52%) used in the United States. Other sources of electricity are: natural gas (16%), oil (3%), nuclear (20%), and hydropower (7%).

What are the environmental benefits of wind power?
Wind energy system operations do not generate air or water emissions and do not produce hazardous waste. They do not deplete natural resources for fuel such as coal, oil or gas, or cause environmental damage through extraction and transport. Wind's pollution-free electricity avoids the environmental impacts associated with conventional electric power generation in the U.S. and worldwide.

 


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