Sometimes I wonder about the focus on wind power. Wind can be a very fickle power source. Based on my experience of sailing on the Great Lakes, sometimes you can get where you want to go using just the wind.
However, other times there is no wind to move the boat at all. A back up source of energy is needed for power when the wind doesn’t blow.
You can make the “white ash breeze” as the Vikings said, by using wooden oars. On the other hand, you can start up the noisy petroleum-fueled engine and be just another stink boater.
Wind is easy enough to harness that some folks use it at their farms or homes. It is often combined with power from the grid. Or, storage batteries are used to hold the windy day surplus until it is needed.
The old farmer’s idea of using windmills to pump water is still good today. Wind can be used to pump water uphill into a tank or reservoir for future use by gravity when needed.
If the reservoir is big enough and high enough it can serve as a battery to store the energy. The stored water can be released to make electricity in a hydroelectric plant when needed.
Not practical for home use but still a good idea. I know of one place along the shore of Lake Michigan where the Consumers Energy utility company does this.
If I lived along the ocean shore, I would combine tidal or wave power, along with wind and solar to supply electricity a larger percentage of the time. I wish we all could live at the beach. It is the dreamer in me.
by Birney Summers – 2009 All Rights Reserved