Wind energy is becoming one of the most commonly discussed forms of renewable energy. Here’s how it works: when the wind blows, it turns the blades of large wind mills (or turbines) that connect to a generator and turn it into electricity. Modern wind turbines are very large, with the diameter of the blades ranging from 150 to 300 feet. Anyone who has ever seen a wind turbine in action knows how majestic and powerful it is!
Wind energy has grown at a rapid rate in recent years and the U.S. Department of Energy has announced a goal of obtaining 6% of U.S. electricity from wind by 2020, which is consistent with the current rate of growth of wind energy nationwide. As public demand for clean energy grows, and as the cost of producing energy from the wind continues to decline, it is likely that wind energy will provide a growing portion of the nation's energy supply.
Fun facts about wind energy:
- Wind energy has been used since the earliest civilization to grind grain, pump water from deep wells and power sailboats.
- Many wind energy companies hire avid rock climbers to do repairs on wind turbines, since technicians must be experts in using ropes to scale great heights.
- Before the U.S. installed an infrastructure of electricity wires, both water-pumping windmills and small wind electric turbines (“wind chargers”) were vital to farming and developing the American Great Plains and west.