Farmers and Wind PowerBy George Grow
This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.
Using the wind to produce electric power has become increasingly profitable in the United States. A new report says some American farmers are discovering that it is profitable to own the rights to the wind on their land. The report was written by Lester Brown, chairman of the Worldwatch Institute. The Worldwatch Institute is a research organization that studies environmental issues.
Mr. Brown says farmers who let a power company use part of their cropland to produce wind energy are earning extra money from the electricity produced. He notes the extra money can be very helpful when farmers are dealing with low prices for their grain.
The cost of wind-powered energy has dropped sharply in the United States since the early Nineteen-Eighties. Worldwatch says the cost of wind-powered electricity is expected to continue to decrease.
It says the falling costs are partly the result of changes in the design of wind collection equipment. The lower costs help to explain why wind power is expanding quickly in many areas.
More and more wind farms have been started in traditional farm states, including Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Wyoming. The possibilities of wind power are great. The report says some American officials believe three states - Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas -- have enough wind energy to meet the electric needs of the whole country.
Mr. Brown says a farmer in Iowa who loans one-tenth of a hectare of cropland to a power company can earn two-thousand dollars a year from the electricity produced. He says that same amount of land produces only one-hundred dollars worth of corn in a productive year.
Some American farmers say this extra money is helping them continue farming. The report says wind energy is good because the equipment does not interfere with the use of the land for crops or farm animals. Worldwatch says a single large wind turbine can produce at least one-hundred-thousand dollars worth of electric power each year. It says much of the money earned stays in the local community.
The report says the increase in wind energy is not limited to the United States. Worldwide, wind-powered electricity expanded by almost forty percent last year.
This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow. This is Steve Ember.