Wind power is a fast growing green energy source. Having been used for farming and domestic work for centuries, todays technology has taken wind energy and made it accessible, efficient and cost-effective. Most people associate wind energy with large turbines on the coasts or in fields, but small wind electric systems are now becoming an option for home-based renewable energy.
Historically, windmills were built to grind grain, cut logs or pump water. Todays models work similarly but rather than perform a chore, the turbine creates energy that can be stored and used commercially or residentially in the electric grid system.
Believe it or not, wind is actually a form of solar energy. Created by the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface, air heats up or cools down and with its rising and falling wind is created.
When that wind spins a turbines' blade, a rotor captures the kinetic energy of the wind and converts it into rotary motion to drive the generator producing usable energy for our homes or businesses. Turbines used in wind farming are often 328 ft. Not exactly a discreet structure! Turbines are built in areas with consistent wind speeds which is why wind farms can be found on the coast or open plains. These areas have few obstacles to break the wind increasing its speed and energy generation.
To bring the green energy to residential areas the turbines had to be decreased in size, ranging from 35-60 ft. For small wind electric systems to be efficient they should be used in areas that have an annual wind speed of 14 miles per hour. Like solar energy, small wind turbine systems have a number of financial benefits from lowering monthly electric bills to keeping your energy flow uninterrupted during power outages. To learn more about residential wind energy or to see if it's an option for your home, check out energy.gov.
An Illustrated History of Wind Power Development