Wind is a renewable energy source produced by the uneven heating of land and water on the earth’s surface by the sun. People can harness the energy using turbines to generate electricity.
Wind turbines, like windmills, are mounted on a tower to capture the most energy. At 100 feet (30 meters) or more aboveground, they can take advantage of the faster and less turbulent wind. Turbines catch the wind's energy with their propeller-like blades.
Usually, two or three blades are mounted on a shaft to form a rotor. The force of the lift is actually much stronger than the wind's force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag. The combination of lift and drag causes the rotor to spin like a propeller, and the turning shaft spins a generator to make electricity. click here to see more inside
Wind turbines can be used as stand-alone applications, or they can be connected to a utility power grid. For utility-scale (megawatt-sized) sources of wind energy, a large number of wind turbines are usually built close together to form a wind plant. Several electricity providers today use wind plants to supply power to their customers.
These new projects place wind power neck and neck with natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country.
The total wind power capacity now operating in the U.S. is over 35,600MW, generating enough to power the equivalent of 9.7 million homes.
America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be consumed for steam or cooling in conventional power plants. (AWEA)
Stand-alone wind turbines are typically used for water pumping or communications. However, homeowners, farmers, and ranchers in windy areas can also use wind turbines as a way to cut their electric bills.