How Wind Energy is Used

How Wind Energy is Used

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Wind generated power is used for electricity in homes, businesses or communities; however, a means of harnessing the wind energy is necessary. Windmills, wind turbines and wind farms provide examples of how wind energy is used to power homes, businesses and communities.

Windmills

Windmills have been used for centuries to harness wind energy. Windmills convert wind energy to power by the movement of the sails. In the past windmills have been used for providing power for sawmills, paper mills and water pumps.

As stated in the U.S. Energy Information Administration article, “The History of Wind Power” dated July 16, 2009, “As late as the 1920s, Americans used small windmills to generate electricity in rural areas without electric service. When power lines began to transport electricity to rural areas in the 1930s, local windmills were used less and less.”

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines are machines that convert the kinetic energy of the wind to mechanical energy, which is then converted to electricity. Two types of systems are in use today – the grid-connected system and the stand-alone system.

With the grid-connected wind turbine system, the home is connected to the electricity grid of the power provider (electric utility company) and when wind is blowing to produce electricity, excess electricity can be fed back to into the grid. When the wind is not blowing electricity can be purchased from the electric provider.

Generally, stand-alone wind turbine systems are used in remote areas where extending power lines is not cost effective. People who want to generate clean energy or gain independence from the local power provider, typically use stand-alone wind turbine systems.

Wind Farms

Wind farms produce electric power by using multiple wind turbines. To build wind farms, wind turbines are placed in the same location and are interconnected. Wind farms can contain as few as a dozen wind turbines to several hundred. Wind farms generate electricity, transfer it into a utility grid, then distribute it to homes and businesses.

One of the largest wind farms in the world is located in Roscoe, Texas. In an NPR article dated November 27, 2007, John Burnett stated about the Roscoe wind farm, “A company called Airtricity, out of Dublin, Ireland, is spending more than $1 billion installing as many as 640 huge windmills around Roscoe. Together, they’ll generate 800 megawatts, enough to power 265,000 homes” (NPR, Nov. 27, 2007).

Windmills, wind turbines and wind farms are how wind energy is used to convert wind to usable power. Wind powered energy from windmills still provide power for farms and ranches. Wind turbines and wind farms provide electricity for homes, businesses and communities. As alternative sources of power, wind turbines can provide electricity for homes, especially in rural areas and wind farms can serve entire communities. Wind generated power is an alternative source for some energy solutions.