WHAT IS WIND ENERGY? Wind is a form of solar energy, caused by the uneven warming of the earth's surface. This is why air masses have different temperatures and pressures, and are constantly moving to find a balance. The greater the difference in pressure, the swifter the air moves and the stronger the wind. People have used wind energy for thousands of years, using it to pump water, grind flour, press olives, and even to explore the world in wind-driven sailing ships. Wind farms use turbines to generate electricity, converting the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy. The wind's force causes the long blades of the turbine to rotate. This rotation starts a generator, which produces low-voltage electric energy.
BENEFITS OF WIND ENERGY: Wind power is a renewable energy source that requires no fuel to operate and does not produce any emissions that are harmful to the environment. Wind turbines are made of plastic and metallic materials, so they don't have any radioactive or chemical impact either. Wind farms take up much less space than conventional power plants, and they also don't produce noise pollution. However, electricity produced from windmills generally costs more than that produced from traditional sources like natural gas and coal. At best, wind farms produce electricity at an efficiency rate of 30 percent, compared to a 70 percent efficiency rate from natural gas and coal. Wind energy is also unreliable. Electricity can't be stored: it must be produced on demand, yet wind is inherently unpredictable. The new turbine blades are designed to increase reliability and efficiency as well as reduce maintenance costs.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, and the American Geophysical Union contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.