About Wind Energy
Wind energy is the second-most common form of renewable energy used to make electricity in the U.S. It 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 (up from about 3% in 2012). As public demand for clean energy grows and as the cost of producing energy from the wind continues to decline, wind energy will likely provide a growing portion of the nation’s energy supply.
How It Works
Wind can be caught using large wind mills (called turbines) that spin to generate electricity.
- Computer systems control the direction of turbine blades to match the direction of the wind
- Wind pushes the turbine blades into rotation
- Blades turn a generator to convert mechanical energy into electricity
- The generator sends electricity through transmission lines to the power grid, bringing electricity to homes and businesses
- Wind has been used since the earliest civilizations to grind grain, pump water and power sailboats
- Wind turbines can be as tall as a 20-story building, with blades as long as a football field
- The top 5 wind power producing states, in order, are Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota and Washington
- Wind energy companies sometimes hire rock climbers to do repairs on their turbines since they’re experts in using ropes to scale great heights
- Wind is created by the heating and cooling patterns of the Earth’s surface based on the position of the sun
- 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
- Wind produces about 4.1% of the energy used in the United States