As midterms and spring break loom ever closer, my friends and I are looking for ways to de-stress and take a break from our studies.
Last weekend, during an impromptu road trip to Boston, my friends and I were excited to get off campus and relax amongst a change of scenery. I had been to Boston numerous times before so I was familiar with the ambience of the landscapes that flew by as we drove from Connecticut to Boston.
Nothing in the New England landscape seemed out of the ordinary, except for when a gigantic, white, pillar-esque structure seemingly stemming from the ground caught my attention. Here, in the central metropolis of New Haven, Conn., I encountered for the first time on the East Coast — a wind turbine.
The spotless, modern-white structure seemed out of place amongst the dingy, run-down grime of our urban surroundings, yet as we continued on our journey to Boston, I noticed more and more wind turbines sprouting out in the most industrial and metropolitan of areas stretching from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The Global Wind Energy Council recently estimated
that wind power capacity has grown by 31 percent worldwide this year. Specifically, the market in the United States grew by 39 percent with nearly 10 gigawatts of new capacity installed in 2009 while there is currently 35 gigawatts of total installed wind power capacity in the U.S.
In addition to providing clean, alternative energy, the U.S. wind industry has opened up new windows of opportunity for roughly 85,000 Americans in 2008 that were employed by the wind turbine manufacturers and alternative energy companies. Wind power not only increases local tax bases, but also revitalizes the economy of rural communities, by providing steady incomes to farmers with wind turbines on their land.
College campuses in the New England area have also jumped on the wind power bandwagon. Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., has announced the installation of the first campus micro-wind farm
in the country. Consisting of 25 Windspire vertical wind turbines manufactured by the wind company, Mariah Power, the University's very own wind farm will power about 50 percent of the campus's exterior lights.
It was installed to gain a little energy independence and aims to be the first of many commitments to sustainable strategies for the campus.
As I looked out the car window in awe and utter confusion, I thought about how these wind turbines could be setting the pattern for a great number of American cities and how this will only be the beginning of many wind turbine sightings in the U.S. for me. (See a short video below of my view from the car!)
Photo: Kasey Lum