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Farming wind for the future

Could the future of renewable energy be found in wind? Wind is created by three natural processes: the uneven heating of the Earth by the Sun, irregularities in the surface of the Earth, and planetary rotation. Energy can be harnessed from wind using wind turbines—wind spins the blades of the turbines around a rotor, which spins a generator to create electricity ( Wind turbines in unison form wind farms that can generate energy without using any fossil fuels or emitting CO2.

There are two key types of wind farms: onshore and offshore. Onshore wind farms are located on land, while offshore wind farms are a few miles off the coast, in the ocean (National Grid). Offshore wind farms tend to be more advantageous than onshore wind farms because there are steadier and faster winds in the ocean and, as a result, they may better meet the energy demands of highly populated areas (AGI; National Grid). Despite this, there are currently very few offshore wind farms in the United States compared to the dozens of already existing onshore wind farms. But, there is a project that could change this.

The Vineyard Wind project is a four billion dollar project that will result in the construction of a 62-turbine wind farm 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The project, which would be the first giant offshore wind farm in the country, would light up 400,000 homes. After years of setbacks, Vineyard Wind is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and it will likely open doorways to more offshore wind farms in the United States (“A Giant Wind Farm Is Taking Root Off Massachusetts”).

Could wind farming be a global solution to climate change? Maybe. Offshore wind farming has already been established off the coasts of northwestern Europe, in the North Sea. Both the strong winds and shallow waters in the North Sea make the location ideal for wind farming (“Energy Change Sweeps the North Sea”). However, there are several setbacks to the globalization of wind farming: it can be expensive and difficult to maintain, not all locations have ideal winds, and there may be unforeseen consequences on marine life (AGI). Given this, wind farming is likely only a piece of the renewable energy puzzle.

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