24 Mar ’14
There is an increasing demand for solar and wind energy throughout the world since both of these forms of energy are clean and sustainable. However, there’s always going to be the problem that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. This is why being able to store energy is becoming really important, especially in times of disaster. There have been many technological advances that allow us to harvest and store wind and solar energy. It has been found that wind turbines and solar photovoltaic installations generate more energy than they consume. Between solar and wind energy, it takes more energy to create and install solar panels than wind turbines, and the wind industry is able to store significantly more surplus energy than the solar industry. In addition, wind turbines pay back the energy that was used to create them much faster than solar panels.1 These facts make wind energy the more favorable source of sustainable energy.
An example of a technological advancement relating to wind energy is the Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) in Alaska. This floating sits at 1,000 feet in the air and is connected to the ground with cables. This is used to feed electricity to power over a dozen homes through one of the cables, and can also be used to supply powers to a disaster area.2 Now that wind-capturing devices can be designed so that they are not attached to the ground, wildlife can be preserved in areas that could also be used to create wind farms. There are concerns about wildlife being affected by the creation of wind turbines, specifically birds. Birds run into tall building in cities because they see glass windows as open space, but they fly right into the windows and fall dead. Wind farms are not actually a threat to the bird population since there are no reflective or transparent surfaces that would fool birds into thinking there’s open space.3 With the push for preserving wildlife and keeping the earth healthy, there is a lot more room for technology to advance. Floating devices can one day have the capability of going even higher, capturing wind more efficiently, and storing more energy which might not even be used until after many generations have passed.