A wind turbine is a device that converts wind into electrical power. Although the technology and principle surrounding wind turbines has existed for over a thousand years, wind turbines have become increasingly popular in recent years as a form of renewable energy. When they are combined with other efforts to go green such as solar power and eco-friendly architectural metal panels, wind turbines can be a great way to provide clean energy to individual homes or entire communities.
How Wind Turbines Work
Wind turbines resemble windmills and work on a similar principle. The blades of a wind turbine are turned by the wind, and as these blades turn they spin a shaft that powers a generator. Basically, a wind turbine is the opposite of a fan. While a fan uses electricity to generate wind, a wind turbine uses wind to generate electricity.
Of course, the one factor that determines whether a wind turbine will work as it is supposed to is the wind itself. Wind can be unpredictable and is subject to various factors such as irregularities on the earth’s surface, bodies of water, vegetation and even how the atmosphere is heated by the sun. Wind flow patterns also vary significantly from one part of the world to the next, making some places better suited for wind turbines than others.
Benefits of Wind Turbines
Despite the fact that they still aren’t widely used in much of the world, there are several benefits to using wind turbines for energy. First of all, wind is an unlimited resource, and places such as the Great Plains and offshore areas where wind flow is largely unaffected by mountains or vegetation have the potential to host large wind farms capable of powering entire communities. Wind energy is also clean. It doesn’t create any pollution in our drinking water or the air we breathe, and it can help us cut down on greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Wind power can also be used to create jobs and sources of income for those in rural areas. Wind turbines are at their most useful in rural, “off the grid” locations, so they are ideal for farms and others living in such places.
Disadvantages of Wind Turbines
Wind turbines have few disadvantages to speak of. Most of the problems associated with wind energy have to do with the location of the turbines themselves. Since wind flow patterns can be so different from one location to the next, those who want to make the most of wind energy have to be careful where the turbines are built. Things like mountains, large forests and major cities can block wind flow and make wind turbines less effective. Many countries have offshore wind turbines that have proven to be very effective. There is almost nothing offshore that can block wind from reaching turbines, and the turbines are far enough away from major cities to not be seen as “in the way” of major cities and other developments.
When wind turbines are built in the right locations and are used properly, they can be used as an excellent source of clean and renewable energy. They are widely used all over the world, and it’s time that they are embraced wholeheartedly throughout the United States.