Wind Power Facts - Interesting Things About Wind Energy
by Brandon Cornett, August 2008
At the time this fact sheet was created, there was a lot of talk about wind power technology. As energy prices continue to rise, American consumers demand alternate forms of energy production. Wind power is one of those alternatives.
In this article, we will look at some interesting facts and background information on this technology.
Editor's Note: This list of facts on wind power could have placed in the science category as well. But because it deals primarily with the "nuts and bolts" of a man-made creation, we have placed it here.
Now with that being said, let's look at some interesting facts about wind power technology!
21 Interesting Facts
- Believe it or not, wind is classified as a form of solar energy. While there are many things that influence our winds, they are initially caused by the sun heating the Earth's atmosphere. As long as the sun shines, the wind will continue to blow.
- Wind power is also considered a renewable resource because it uses something that does not run out. In contrast, fossil fuels like oil and coal are non-renewable resources that will eventually run out. The wind will never "run out."
- You often hear the phrases wind power and wind energy used interchangeably. Essentially, these terms mean the same thing. They both refer to the conversion of wind into some form of mechanical or electrical power.
- Wind power has been used for centuries, though the technology behind it has obviously changed. As far back as 500 A.D., the Persians (in what is modern Iran) used windmills to pump water and grind grain.
- The wind turbine is the primary mechanism used with this technology. These giant, windmill-looking devices are placed in strategic locations that are consistently windy (often referred to as "wind farms").
- The turbine creates electricity by powering a generator. Here is the basic process that takes place. The wind blows >> the blades turn >> the blades turn a rotor that is connected to a shaft >> the spinning shaft powers a generator, which in turn produces electrical power.
- The Science section of the National Geographic website has an interactive simulator that shows you how wind energy is created. You can check it out here.
- It's a fact that wind power produces little to no waste. The turbines power the generator and produce electricity without producing any greenhouses gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.
- If it's large enough, a single turbine can provide enough electrical power for more than 200 homes.
- Modern wind turbines can be extremely large, and for good reason. Most are placed on poles the measure 100 feet or more. This puts the blades in a position to receive the strongest (and least turbulent) winds.
- As of this date of publication (August 2008), the tallest wind turbine in the world is the Enercon E-126 located in Emden, Germany. The structure is 673 feet tall (205 meters). It produces enough electricity to power thousands of homes.
- Within the United States, the tallest turbine is part of the Snyder Wind project located in Scurry County in northeast Texas. The towers measure 345 feet.
- The blades of these turbines can be incredibly large as well. Some are even longer than a football field (100 yards or 300 feet in length).
- At the time this fact sheet was published (August 2008), the largest farm in the United States was Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center located in Texas. It has a total of 421 turbines and spans more than 46,000 acres of land.
- A massive wind farm with more than 300 turbines has been planned for the state of Oregon in the United States. Upon completion, it could be the largest farm in the U.S.
- Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of energy in the world, when measured by percentage of growth. In the United States alone, wind power grew by an average of 29% annually from 2003 to 2007. (Source: Fact sheet produced by the American Wind Energy Association)
- Turbines are currently being tested in small towns and villages in Africa, such as the town of M'muock in Cameroon.
- Some countries in Europe (like Germany and Spain) are now generating up to 25% of their total electricity through wind turbine technology.
- In terms of wind power capacity, the United States ranks third in the world behind Spain and Germany.
- T. Boone Pickens is one of the biggest (and most vocal) advocates of wind power in the United States. He is an oilman turned "wind man" and has actively pressured the U.S. government to catch up with Europe in terms of wind power. He is putting much of his own money into the Pampa Project, a massive wind farm being developed in Texas.
- The Pampa Project mentioned above is set to be completed in 2014, and is expected to produce more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity for Texas — enough "juice" to power more than one million homes!
Where will wind power take us in the future? Only time will tell. But after reading these facts on the subject, I think you'll agree that it's an energy source worth developing further.
References: Much of this fact sheet was compiled from widely available information. I also referred to the following sources. The U.S. Department of Energy website, particularly the section on renewable energy through the use of wind turbines. The website of FPL Energy, which owns the aforementioned Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. Both of these sites are excellent sources of facts and information on this subject. Inline citations (hyperlinks) are also spread throughout this article.
About the Author
This fact sheet was provided by Brandon Cornett. Brandon is the creator of 21Facts.com. He is also a freelance writer and the author of many articles that can be found all over the Internet.
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