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Turbine Time

Wind has been a tool for people to use since the early recorded days of history. In 5000
BC wind was harnessed to propel boats across the Nile River, and in about 600 BC the Persians
used wind power to grind grain and pump water (Advantages). Windmills made there way from
Persia to the Middle East. In 1,000A.D wind power made their way northern to areas such as the
Netherlands where they were used to drain lakes and marshes. In the beginning of the 19th
century wind power was used to produce electricity for farmers homes and businesses with their
new improved steel blades. Wind turbines drastically changed over the years, in 1980 the average
height of a turbine was 25 meters, now the tallest turbine is 220 m. This just goes to show how
fast the industry can change over three decades. And now windmills are a common way to
collect energy and spread it throughout the world. Europe is the leading country in wind power
due to concern for global warming and fossil fuels threats. Europe now has 128,800 megawats of
wind power, 6% of them offshore, these windmills have the power to light up about 34 million
homes (Gallucci). One of the leading windmill manufactures in the world is Vestas wind
turbines, a Danish company that employs more than 17,000 people (600mw). Denmark is an
ideal place for turbines because it is one of the windiest places in the world. Vestas wind
systems are a manufacturer, seller, installer, and servicer of turbines to commercial businesses.
Vesta has installed turbines in more than 75 countries, including South America, Europe, and
Asia, and has been in business since 1970.
So how are homes and businesses powered by these turbines? It works similar to the
opposite way of a fan. The wind turns the blades, which spin the shaft, which is connected to the
generator to create electricity (Woodford). These blades are specially curved to capture as much

wind as possible. Believe it or not wind is actually a form a solar energy that is caused by a result
of uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun (Woodford). Wind flows and speeds vary around
the world due to bodies of water, vegetation and difference of terrain.
Wind energy in the United States is not nearly as big as it is in Europe; however it is
starting to spike up. In 2012 the wind industry grew 28% with 45,000 turbines installed (wind). A
small LLC out of Michigan has a new innovative way to capture the wind with their vertical axis
turbines. This company is called Arborwind and came to be in 2010 and being a relatively new
company they are looking to expand and partner up (news). They typically produce these
turbines for agriculture, education and home use.
Vesta mainly supplies their wind turbines to utility companies, power plants, energy
developers, and independent power providers (IPP), while Arborwind sells to much smaller
groups, such as schools or farms (news). The costs for these two companies vary extremely due
to the fact that one much larger. Vesta constructs turbines that can produce an average of 3
megawatts of power. To give one an idea, one megawatt has the power to generate electricity for
400-500 homes. It usually costs $2.5-$3.5 million to produce a wind turbine, pending on the
location and number of turbines being purchased, because if a company were to buy a dozen
turbines compared to one, they would get cut a deal (The cost). On the other hand, Arborwind
produces turbines that are an average of 60 kilowatt, for comparison an air conditioner uses
about 3.5 kw. This would cost about $200,000-$300,000, equipment cost is typically about 80%
and the rest is installation and shipping (The cost). A wind turbine generally consists of three
primary parts, the tower, the nacelle, and the blades (Woodford). However, before the actually
turbine is manufactured a proper site must be set up for it, an ideal site is a level area with strong
wind currents (mountain or ridge). Concrete is poured for a foundation and the area is leveled

out, if not already. The blades for the turbine are made from either aluminum or fiberglass,
neither of them being an extremely high priced material. The tower of the turbine is then
constructed from steel, not on the site but it is typically assembled on once there. The nacelle of
the turbine is also not constructed on the site, but unlike the tower it is assembled and attached to
the turbine within the factory.
Not everything is created on site, so transportation becomes a factor as well. The tower
and blades are transported in a large flat bead usually. The cost of shipping and installation is
typically about $20,000-25,000, while the equipment cost is about $40,000-45,000. This creates
a total cost of about $60,000-70,000 to manufacture, ship, and install (The cost). Once all the
pieces of the turbine are at the site a crane stands the tower up and the blades of the turbine are
bolted on to the nacelle making it complete.
Obviously the smaller the turbine the less it will cost to make it, especially with
Arborwinds vertical axis turbines. The vertical axis turbines are a lot easier to manufacture and
maintain. There a few major differences in these turbines, one being the engine is located near
the bottom while in a normal turbine they are at the top (news). The strut free blades are also all
connected so there is less weight and less stress on them. These blades can be lighter, reducing
the cost of them, it also doesnt matter what way these turbines are facing because they are omnidirection. The vertical turbines are also generally not as high as other turbines because they can
capture wind at a much lower altitude (news). Many of the benefits of these turbines are shared
by both companies, however since Arborwinds is an LLC and Vestas is a corporation the taxes
for the companies are different. LLCs are taxed similar to a sole proprietorship, while
corporations are taxed twice. Wind turbines provide a clean, sustainable fuel source, which is
low priced and most likely isnt going anywhere. Turbines can be built on existing farms, which

is a benefit to farmers because companies would pay them to use their land. Wind power has
been a $10 billion a year industry for the U.S and also provides thousands of people with jobs
(wind). For the smaller home-style turbines, they can reduce costs, if not cancel out electricity
bills and having a turbine on your property shows your interest in a green future.
Of course on the other hand there are downfalls to wind turbines too. For example, wind
is all about reliability and predictions; it doesnt happen every day like the sun. Although we do
have the technology to forecast where and how powerful the winds will be. Turbines usually
function at about 30% capacity so if it wasnt a windy day one could potentially be left without
power (pros). Serious storms with high winds are a danger to a turbine as well, not to mention it
is a fine lightning attracter. The edges of the blades can be harmful to wild life, more specifically
birds and other flying animals. There really isnt a way to prevent this; however the vertical
turbines that blades connect are a little less harmful to wildlife. Wind turbines can also be a
complete pain to install and to maintain depending on the type of person you are. Wind turbines
make a sound between 50 and 60 decibels and if you put it next to your home it can be a real
pain (pros). Also, some people believe wind turbines to be ugly and a waste of space, so your
neighbor could complain. Wind turbines are no cheap task to setup, as you may have already
read, but it can cut your electricity bill. Since wind can only be harnessed in certain locations
where the wind speed is high, and these areas are generally in remote places, transmission lines
must be setup to bring the power to residential areas, this adds on to the total cost (pros). Wind
turbines take up a large amount of space as well, that can sometimes require the chopping down
of trees, so that sort of cancels out the whole going green idea. Lastly, in the rare event that the
turbine falls over or the blades shoot off, it can be an extreme safety hazard to people working

on/by the turbine or live by it. So yes, there are some risks to owning a turbine, but there are
downsides to nearly everything and the pros heavily outweigh the cons.
In the future, Denmark and other European countries would like to place large turbines
offshore to collect more energy. The largest wind turbine in the world is currently produced by
Vesta and is 8 mw of power and 722ft tall, by 2020 Vestas would like to have 20,000 mw
turbines (wind). Europe as a whole plans to be 100% free of fossil fuels by 2050, and creates
thousands of more jobs for people (Gallucci). In 2012 wind energy provided enough electricity
for 30% of Denmarks electricity consumption, three years later in 2015, it rose to 42% (wind).
In fact, a windy day in July Denmark produced 116-140% of their national electricity
requirement, 80% of this electricity was sent to Germany and Norway (Gallucci). The wind
turbine industry has a very large potential to grow, with the realization that fossil fuels will not
be around forever, people need to find another source of energy. The 1970 oil crisis is, which was
when the U.S consumption of oil was at an all-time high and production was at a low, it sent
prices rocketing. This is just another reason as to why countries should invest more in wind
turbines than other fuel sources. Nuclear and fossil fuels receive more financial support from the
U.S than any other type of fuel. This is why the wind industry will not only grow in turbines, but
jobs as well. The turbine industry employs more than 73,000 people and is still growing (wind).
Perhaps an incentive for firms entering this industry is the 30% federal investment tax offered for
companies that use solar/wind power. But entering the industry is no easy task, there are four
companies (Vestas being one of them) who control the top 40% of the market.

Overall the goal is more offshore turbines because thats where the windiest places are.
New technology is being developed for this purpose, such as floating bases for the turbines and
to use old oil platforms. The market for turbines will hopefully be booming in the future, for both
commercial ngbusinesses and home owners, all homes will have a turbine providing power for
their electricity needs. Also, in 1978 the public utility regulatory policy act was signed, which
made companies buy certain amounts of electricity from renewable energy source. Wind turbines
should also switch over to the vertical axis turbine because they are cost efficient and cheaper to
To the owners of Arborwind, Id recommend expanding your company and try to sell the
idea of vertical turbines to larger companies, or merge with one. Vesta turbines seem to be on the
right track, as they are growing and have potential to be the top turbine manufacture in the world.
The windmill industry is a relatively new one that will be growing in the coming years and can
hopefully change the way we live.
Wind turbines certainly can change, not only the way we live, but the way we produce
energy. Perhaps we (America) can look at Europe and learn a few things from their wind power
industry, they seem to be far ahead of us and going in the correct direction. Wind has been
around forever and it looks like its not going anywhere soon. Although wind energy involves a
decent amount of costs, including installation, shipping, and maintaining, it will pay for itself
within a few years. The vertical turbines are a new, innovative way to capture the wind without
the noise and troubles of normal turbines, hopefully these will soon replace the turbines. There
are definitely downfalls to turbines, but the pros overpower the cons. Within the next decade the
wind turbine industry will be making expansions to have offshore turbines and more
electricity produced by wind itself.

Work Citied
"Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy." Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

"The Cost of Wind Energy in the U.S." The Cost of Wind Energy in the U.S. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr.

Gallucci, Maria. "Wind Energy Booms In Europe As U.S. Developers Face Uncertainty." International
Business Times. N.p., 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

"News." Arborwindcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

"600 MW." Vestas. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

"Wind Energy Facts." CleanTechnica. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

Woodford, Chris. "Wind Turbines." How Do Wind Turbines Work? N.p., 8 Mar. 2015. Web. 13 Apr.

"7 Pros and Cons of Wind Energy - Conserve Energy Future."ConserveEnergyFuture. N.p., 08 Jan.
2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.