Wind

Winds are created by uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, irregularities of the Earth's surface, and the rotation of the Earth. As a result, winds are strongly influenced and modified by local terrain, bodies of water, weather patterns, vegetative cover, and other factors. Wind power works by turning the blades of the windmill, powering the turbine and generating electricity. While it is growing rapidly in installed capacity, wind power currently only accounts for 0.3% of the nation's energy supply.
 
Facts

  • Wind turbines can be sited offshore where the wind blows harder and larger turbines can be installed. Many offshore wind farms are being proposed and developed today in densely populated Europe, where there is limited space on land and relatively large offshore areas with shallow water.
    Read more at the American Wind Energy Association
  • Wind turbines can be built on farms or ranches, benefiting the economy in rural areas where most of the best wind sites are found. Farmers and ranchers can continue to work the land because the wind turbines use only a fraction of the land. Wind power plant owners make rent payments to the farmer or rancher for the use of the land.
    Read more at the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy
  • Utility-scale turbines range in size from 100 kilowatts to as large as several megawatts. Larger turbines are grouped together into wind farms, which provide bulk power to the electrical grid.
    Read more at the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy
  • Single small turbines (below 100 kilowatts) are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping. Small turbines are sometimes used in connection with diesel generators, batteries, and photovoltaic systems. These systems are called hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations, where a connection to the utility grid is not available.
    Read more at the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy
  • Although wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to other conventional power plants, there is some concern over the noise produced by the rotor blades, aesthetic (visual) impacts, and sometimes birds have been killed by flying into the rotors. Most of these problems have been resolved or greatly reduced through technological development or by properly siting wind plants.
    Read more at the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy
  • The windiest 6% of land in the lower 48 states has the ability to produce 1.5 times our current electricity needs.
    Read more at the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy
  • The major challenge to using wind as a source of power is that the wind is intermittent and it does not always blow when electricity is needed. Wind energy cannot be stored (unless batteries are used); and not all winds can be harnessed to meet the timing of electricity demands.
    Read more at the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy