What’s Wind Energy?

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Wind energy is a renewable resource that has been used for thousands of years. It can be harnessed directly or through wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind power is considered clean energy, but building turbines requires resources and can take up valuable land. Despite this, wind power is preferable to polluting and non-renewable power sources like coal and nuclear power. Many nations have wind energy programs, and companies are developing more efficient turbines.

Wind energy is the energy that comes from the wind. There are several ways to collect and use the energy created by the wind and this type of energy is among the oldest forms of energy used by man. Windmills, wind turbines, and sails all use it to some extent, and these harvesting methods can be used in a variety of ways. Energy created by wind is considered a form of clean energy, as wind is an entirely renewable resource. As of 2008, about 1% of the world’s energy came from wind, with significant growth in the sector.

One way to use wind energy is to harness the power directly. On a sailing vessel, for example, the sail is positioned to allow the wind to push the vessel. Windmills have historically used the wind to turn millstones or drive a pump for a borehole, using the energy directly on site for various needs. These techniques have been in operation for thousands of years.

In the case of a wind turbine, the wind spins the turbine, which generates electricity, a usable form of energy. Electricity is also convenient because it can be transported off site, allowing the power to generate power that will be used in remote locations. This form is less efficient than using energy directly, as energy is lost in the conversion and transmission process.

Many nations have wind energy programs as part of a larger drive to use clean energy. Wind turbines can be installed in a variety of locations, with companies continually developing new and more efficient turbines. Many wind farms are located in typically windy areas, taking advantage of a large availability of wind.

Wind power is not inherently environmentally friendly, although it does have some environmental benefits. Building turbines requires a large amount of resources, as does transporting the turbines and creating infrastructure to transport the electricity generated. A wind farm can also take up valuable land that could be used for agriculture, wildlife habitat or housing. Some companies have been working on developing wind turbines that can be built into usable land, making a farm multi-purpose. Others have focused on using renewable resources and environmentally sustainable practices in generator construction to reduce the environmental cost of setting up a generating facility.

Despite these drawbacks, wind power is considered preferable to many forms of power generation, including coal-fired power plants and nuclear power. These methods tend to be polluting and use non-renewable resources. In the case of nuclear power, while power generation itself is quite clean, spent nuclear fuel is a serious problem. Wind is also preferable to hydroelectric power, which involves building dams to harness the energy in water and can damage habitats and interfere with the health of waterways.

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