Wind energy is considered a distant form of solar energy because wind is caused by the sun’s uneven heating of the earth. It is, therefore, perpetually renewable. We are able to use wind as a form of energy by utilizing wind turbines. In a very basic sense, wind turbines use the wind to generate kinetic energy and then convert that energy into electrical energy.
This is a great short video that introduces the function of a wind turbine. ——-> Energy 101 – Wind Turbines
The idea of harvesting wind energy has been used for several centuries. For the past 800 years, European farmers have used the rotational energy of windmills to pump water and irrigate their crops.
The modern version of these windmills are wind turbines. Wind turbines range from 40 to 100 meters in height and are most often found in wind farms (large areas with hundreds of turbines). The nacelle is the unit atop the turbine from which the blades extend. Inside the nacelle are the gearbox and the generator. Once the wind turns the blades, the rotation of the blades makes the gearbox spin. The the kinetic energy that turns the gearbox is fed into the generator, which converts the energy into electricity.
Though wind power makes up a small percentage of the world’s total energy, it is quickly growing. Germany, Spain, and the U.S. generate the largest amounts of energy from wind each year, however, Denmark currently generates the highest percentage of their energy from wind, around 20%.
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