By Benjamin Kahane
For hundreds of years, humans have used wind to pump water and grind grain, mostly with small windmills. Large, modern wind turbines are used to generate electricity for individual use and to feed into the electric grid. Wind turbines generally have three blades and, because higher altitudes yield higher wind velocities and lower turbulences, the turbines are mounted on tall towers to capture as much energy as possible. As the blades turn, the central shaft spins a generator to make electricity.
In the United States, total wind power constitutes a little more than 1 percent of the total country’s energy output — about 40,000 megawatts as of 2010. The 1,020 megawatt Alta Wind Energy Center, in California’s Tehachapi Pass, is currently the largest onshore wind farm in the world. Offshore wind power is even more promising since the winds over the oceans are more consistent and less turbulent than over land. Currently, most of the world’s offshore wind farms are in Northern Europe, but there are groups in the United States fighting to build offshore wind farms here as well. It is estimated that by 2020, worldwide capacity for offshore wind farms will reach 75 gigawatts.
Benjamin Kahane is a utility scale project engineer at SunEdison, where he designs photovoltaic solar energy systems. He has provided engineering support for the development of more than 100 megawatts of ground-mounted photovoltaic projects across North America. Kahane previously worked as a project engineer developing photovoltaic installations at Conergy. He earned his master’s degree in sustainable energy engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.
The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL’s Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology’s Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The Guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.