The Answer is Blowin’ In the Wind: An Introduction to Wind Power

Dylan’s famous lyrics may have been on to something. Is the answer blowing in the wind? Proponents of wind power sure think so!

So, what exactly is wind power, how does it work, and what makes it a “green” option for producing energy? Below, we’ve compiled a brief introduction to wind power as a source of clean energy.

What is Wind Power?

Wind power is the process of harnessing energy from the movement of the wind and converting it to useful forms of mechanical power and electricity.  Today, most wind energy comes from turbines – essentially giant windmills. The wind turns two or three of the turbine’s propeller-like blades around the turbine’s rotor. The rotor is connected to a main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity.

How Does it Work?

Although the name does not suggest as much, wind power is actually a form of solar power.  Sunlight causes temperature differences across the Earth’s surface, and the differences in surface temperatures force warm air to rise and create winds. Harnessing the energy from these winds is therefore a function of solar power.  Want a full rundown on wind and how it occurs in nature? Read on in this helpful explanation.

How is Wind Power a “Greener” Option?

The beauty of wind power is that it is derived from a virtually unlimited and inexhaustible resource: the wind. Unlike energy that relies on fossil fuels, wind energy produces far fewer carbon emissions and pollution. In addition, most wind turbines/wind farms, once established, don’t have exhausting operational costs.

So Why Isn’t Everyone Using Wind Power?

It seems like a no-brainer. An inexhaustible resource, clean energy.  So what’s the hold up? Why isn’t everything fueled by wind power?

Unfortunately, wind turbines and wind power take up a large portion of land and the process can be pricey to set up. When built close to residential areas, turbines can be noisy and/or unsightly. Additionally, the amount of energy harnessed from wind power can vary daily, depending on wind conditions. Regardless, as technology advances, more and more countries are adopting wind power solutions.

Did You Know?

A few fun facts:

  • The largest wind turbines produce enough electricity to fuel nearly 600 homes.
  • Globally, Germany has the most wind energy capacity, followed by Spain, the US, India, and Denmark.
  • Renewable energy experts believe that by 2050, wind energy could be the solution to one third of the world’s electricity requirements.
  • The highest wind speed recorded on Earth is 231mph.

Stay tuned here at Eco-Centric for the latest news on renewable projects, wind energy and more! In future posts, we’ll give brief rundowns on other types of renewable/clean energy, how they work, various current green energy projects and initiatives, and fun facts about renewables.

Resources:

http://environment.about.com/od/renewableenergy/a/wind_power.htm

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/wind-power-profile/

http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/what_is_wind.asp

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