Wind is one of the cleanest, if not cleanest, renewable energy sources available to us. What most people don’t know is it is also the fastest growing energy sector.
Wind is an indirect version of solar power. Different surfaces on the Earth react differently to being hit by sunlight, particular in regards to heat. As sunlight heats up surfaces, they warm up at different rates. The surround air also warms up at different rates, fertilizing the wind process. Temperatures over a body of water like a lake will always be cooler than temperatures over rocky ground. Hot air rises and cool air rushes into fill such voids. As this process occurs, the rushing air manifests as wind and an incredibly cheap and clean energy source.
The fact that wind is a naturally occurring event makes it a great energy source. Consider the following:
1. Wind is a renewable energy source because it will exist as long as sunlight beats down on us.
2. Wind has been used by man as an energy source ever since we’ve sailed boats.
3. The first windmills were used to turn wheels to grind grain in Iran.
4. American colonist used windmills to move water, grind grain and cut wood.
5. Wind energy harnessed by windmills was a dominant source of energy in rural America in the 1920s.
6. In modern times, California is the biggest user of wind power and produces twice as much electricity as any other state.
7. Modern windmills actually come in two forms, vertical and horizontal models.
8. Horizontal windmills are the stereotypical version that comes to your mind when the word is mentioned.
9. Vertical mills look like upside down egg beaters, but are hypnotic when they spin.
10. Unlike traditional utilities, most energy produced by wind is done by private businesses and sold to utilities through an electric grid hookup.
11. Wind power in the U.S. generates a whopping 17 billion kilowatts per year, more than enough to provide all electrical needs for the city of Chicago.
12. More than 30 states have wind farms generating and supplying electricity to utility companies.
13. California, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wyoming are the dominant forces in producing energy from wind.
14. The biggest energy producer from wind is Germany, which is also dominant in solar power production.
For many, these wind findings will be a surprise. The sole fact that there is enough power produced by wind energy to handle a city the size of Chicago is pretty impressive. As we move into the 21st century, new technology is heading in the direction of creating wind energy platforms for individual residences.