What is Wind Energy?

And How Does Wind Energy Work?

What is wind energy? The simplest way to explain the answer to that question is that wind is air that is in motion. Air that is motion contains kinetic energy. That energy can be harnessed and used to provide electricity and power via wind turbines.

Wind energy is also a form of solar energy that has been converted into air moving across the earth. When the sun shines down on the Earth, it warms the Earth at varying rates, which means the temperature of the Earth's surface isn't the same in two places at the exact same time. When this happens, that solar energy is converted into wind energy.

How Does Wind Work?

The kinetic energy created when the wind blows can be harnessed and converted into electricity or mechanical energy using wind turbines. The two types of wind turbines are the vertical-axis and the horizontal-axis.

Both types of wind turbine are very effective, depending on where they're located. The wind hits the turbine, making it rotate, which then creates energy that can be used for many different purposes.

What is Wind Energy Used For?

  • Pumping water in remote locations and on large farms

  • Sawing

  • Grinding grain

  • Provide electricity for residential homes or commercial buildings

Is Wind Power Available to the Average Homeowner?

Wind energy is available to anyone who lives in a geographic location that receives enough wind to make a wind turbine rotate fast enough to generate power.

In the United States, there are several locations that are ideal for capturing and using the energy created from the wind. However, there are other areas where wind turbines wouldn't be in a position to create enough wind to power even one home.

The cost of a single wind turbine for a residential setting can be as much as $22,000, so it's possible that the cost alone would be a deterrent to some homeowners.

Even for those who would build a wind turbine themselves, the cost is still significant for a single turbine. Wind energy is available, but building and utilizing the turbines can be costly and it can logistically difficult to place them in the areas that get the most wind when it comes to zoning restrictions.

No matter what the restrictions however, wind is a clean and renewable energy source that truly needs to be tapped to its full potential.

Benefits of Using Wind Energy

  • Efficient

  • Provides free power!

  • Keeps local dollars within the community

  • Creates local jobs - building the parts of wind turbines, installing the turbines, etc.

  • Wind turbines require very little maintenance once they're installed

  • Low operating costs

  • Beneficial to the environment

  • Can be used in conjunction with solar energy and hydropower

Drawbacks of Using Wind Energy

  • The wind doesn't always blow, which means a backup energy source must be in place

  • Multiple turbines must be built and utilized to create energy required to power a home or commercial building

  • Noise factor - some people think that wind turbines are noisy and disruptive

  • Health effects - some people believe that living or working too close to a wind turbine may cause negative health effects, known as wind turbine syndrome.

  • High initial investment

  • Turbines can be harmful to birds flying through

  • Finding land on which to erect wind turbines

Can Wind Energy Be Supplemented?

Wind energy combined with either solar energy or hydropower is an effective solution to the problem of wind not blowing every day, all day long. Together, wind and solar energy can provide a sustainable solution for remote or off-grid locations. Hydropower can help provide a back up system when the wind isn't blowing.

What is wind energy? It is a renewable, clean energy source that is our future if we choose to embrace it and continue to find ways to make wind power more affordable to homeowners and businesses across the board.

›› ›› What is Wind Energy

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