The search for alternative forms of energy has led to very interesting technological advancements. One of the best ideas, and also most simple, is capturing the power of the wind. Out of all alternative forms of energy, wind energy is the fastest growing, with an annual growth rate of 30% in the United States. Capturing wind energy is easy, with wind farms being located in different areas across the united states. In fact, a small wind farm out in Wyoming generates enough electricity to power over 9,000 homes! Larger wind farms can produce even more electricity, cutting electricity costs greatly. Although this is a great feat, it’s weird to imagine a slight breeze throughout the day being capable of producing enough power to generate so much electricity. So how do these wind turbines work?
The blades on a wind turbine are turned like an airplane’s blades. This causes air pressure to be uneven, higher on one side and lower on the other. By creating this difference in air pressure, the blade is forced to spin with the wind. The blades are connected to a shaft that only turns around 18 times per minute. This is nowhere near fast enough to generate decent amounts of electricity, so a series of gears are connected to each other inside of the turbine. The final gear is small and rotates about 1800 times per minute (1,000 times that of the initial gear). Because of the high rotation rate, the generator inside the turbine can generate a large amount of electricity. The reason wind turbines are so tall is because winds get increasingly stronger higher off the ground. The taller a turbine, the more efficient it is. Also, the blades on a turbine are around 130 feet long and can sweep a circle in the sky as long as a football field.
Unfortunately, not all areas are feasible for hosting a wind farm. Areas like prairies, deserts, and mountains provide the best locations for harnessing wind energy. Because prairies and deserts are large, wide-open areas, wind can travel freely and is strong enough to produce great amounts of energy. Also, by placing wind turbines on small mountains, the turbines can be powered by stronger winds only found at higher elevations.
Some of the largest wind farms in the United States provide a TON of clean energy. The largest is the Roscoe Wind Farm located in Roscoe, Texas. This wind farm has 627 wind turbines and produces 781.5 megawatts! Altogether the wind farm covers almost 100,000 acres, which is roughly the size of Manhattan. The power produced by the Roscoe Wind Farm provides enough power for 250,000 homes! The second largest wind farm is the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, which covers 47,000 acres. It has 421 wind turbines and produces 735.5 megawatts. The third largest is the Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm, which is one of the oldest wind farms in the country. It has both the modern three-blade wind turbines plus older two-blade designs. It produces a total of 705 megawatts.
Wind energy is truly a fascinating form of clean energy. It is simple in design, and requires very little maintenance. Once installed, wind turbines produce energy completely on their own. While not all areas can hold wind farms, there are still plenty of prairies, deserts, and mountains across the world that can be utilized. Besides that, the only other drawback is not all areas can host wind farms due to space constraints. Despite these drawbacks, wind energy is still a great source of clean energy that powers thousands of homes across the United States.