What is wind energy?

Wind is a cleaner, free, and readily available renewable energy source. Every day around the world, wind turbines are capturing the wind’s power and converting it to electricity.  This source of power generation plays an increasingly important role in the way we power our world.

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How does a wind turbine work?

A wind turbine is comprised of three blades, a hub, and a nacelle, which all sit atop a steel tower.

When wind blows, the blades spin clockwise, capturing wind’s energy. This triggers the main shaft, connected to the gearbox within the nacelle, to spin. The gearbox increases the rotational speed and sends that energy to the generator, converting it to electricity. Electricity then travels downtower to the transformer, where it is converted again to AC or DC voltage depending on the grid.

Watch these videos to learn more about how a wind turbine works from GE and the US Department of Energy

How smart are wind turbines?

Improvements in technology are being made every day to make wind turbines smarter than ever. Better siting and wind forecasting technology, along with enhanced software and sensors, can help improve a wind turbine’s production and performance.

What are the environmental benefits of wind energy?

The wind emits no toxic substances, creates no waste, does not pollute our water. Wind turbines do not need any conventional fuel to generate electricity. Wind energy is plentiful and readily available, and capturing its power does not deplete our valuable natural resources, and more importantly helps counter the detrimental effects of climate change. The Global Wind Energy Outlook projects that by 2030 wind energy will offset 2.5 billion tons per year of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to taking 530 million cars off the road each year or avoiding the use of 4.6 billion barrels of oil globally. This would even offset emissions from 525 coal-fired power plants in one year. 

Is wind a good citizen of the grid?

Many people today think that because wind is “different,” it is bad for the electricity grid. The reality is that many places today operate at very high levels of wind, while still keeping our lights on! 

All power sources need backup power support and no single energy technology can satisfy 100% of the electricity demand. The electricity grid copes with large fluctuations in energy demand on a daily basis, overcoming changes as small as turning lights on to as large as AC units ramping up as people return home from work. Wind plays a role in the grid, helping to support ever-changing demand.

Today, wind turbine owners benefit from well-established wind forecasting technology, and advanced wind plant siting. These advances help wind turbines capture more wind, generate more electricity, and serve as a valuable power generation resource. 

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