This is an incredibly important and exciting time for making investments in wind energy. For too long now, our dependence on fossil fuels has put a strain on our planet and on our economy. As supplies dwindle, we are being left with no choice other than to look to other forms of energy. One of the most appealing of these options is offshore wind energy. This is energy that is harvested from the wind, usually by large turbines that are situated off the shore where they can catch large amounts of wind. But how is this market looking?
The offshore wind energy market is concerned with collecting energy from wind using large wind turbines situated in the ocean. By installing these off the coast, they are able to collect more wind and thereby provide a much steadier rate of energy delivery. With more and more effort being made to transition to purely green forms of energy, it is highly likely that we will see this market grow immensely.
How Wind Energy Works and Why it Really Comes From the Sun
Did you know that most forms of energy can actually be traced back to the sun? We tend only to think of something like a solar panel as harnessing the power of the sun, but in fact the truth is that most types of sustainable energy actually come from the sun.
For example, when you use biofuel, you are actually reusing energy that has been stored by plants. And where does that energy come from? The sun! Likewise, the same is also true when we use fossil fuels. The only difference here is that this biomass is made up of both plants and animals (though all the energy still originates from the sun) and has since been compressed under the ground. When you burn it, you actually release energy stored by the sun. Harnessing wind energy may seem novel but it is in fact still just another way to utilize energy from the sun.
So, what okabout wind energy?
If you don't remember your high school geography/science then you might have forgotten where wind comes from. Essentially wind is caused by air pockets and pressure. Because pressure likes to 'equalize' – in other words spread out into any space evenly – this means that if there are any 'gaps' in something like the air that more air will rush in to fill it.
What happens then is that when the temperature of the surface of the ground is comparatively hot, this causes the air near it to heat up and rise (it is lighter because it has more energy) which in turn means that the air above it then rushes down to fill the void left behind and to equalize once again. This rush of air is what we call 'wind' and what powers our wind farms.
Pros and Cons
The benefit of wind energy is of course that it is renewable (more on about how it works below). That means that it doesn’t need to be mined and it means that it won’t ever run out. This makes it a savvy investment, as a single turbine or wind farm can help to provide energy indefinitely.
Not only that, but relying on wind energy means that we aren’t relying on dwindling resources that will one day run out. For this reason, governments are leaning on citizens and businesses to use more wind energy and councils are increasingly considering the benefits of switching to renewable energy sources. As an investor, that makes this a good option.
At the same time though, wind energy also has some disadvantages. For one, when the wind velocity is low, less energy is collected. The ability to store energy and the off-shore location helps to mitigate these factors somewhat, but it is still worth considering. At the same time, it’s also important to remember that wind energy still has an environmental impact. By driving turbines for instance, you are actually slowing down the wind and preventing it from making use elsewhere.
It is very important to consider the competition here as well. For example, other forms of renewable energy include solar power and geothermal.
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The Green Homes of Tomorrow
Either way, you can expect to see many innovations making homes more energy efficient even before we being to change the power supply from the grid.
While automation may seem frivolous, it does have uses other than keeping us sat on the sofa. If you can automate all of your lighting and heating for instance and program it to react in certain ways, then you can precisely calculate the amount of energy that you're going to use in a year. This tight control will then allow us to employ more efficient protocols so that we never forget to turn off the light and so that we always use precisely the amount of energy we need. We might even someday see a world where only the lights we're nearest come on and never brighter than necessary.
Of course, we can also expect the efficiency of our appliances to improve to the point where we can have the rooms just as toasty and just as bright but use considerably less energy to do so. As technology improves and engineers come up with smarter and smarter solutions, washing machines may no longer be quite the energy hit that they once were. Energy saving light bulbs, electric showers and double glazing are all examples of technologies that have been adopted in the last few decades and we can only expect more of the same going forward.
Water clinging to your windows and walls looks bad, but it also 'steels' heat energy from your rooms in order to evaporate. In the future though this is something we won't need to worry about thanks to coatings of nano-materials that can completely seal surfaces and prevent anything from gripping to them or being absorbed. In the future you'll be able to throw a bucket of water at your window and it will remain completely dry.