Wind can generate electricity and thus provide an additional source of energy for human use. Harnessing the energy of the wind means using the air which flows naturally in the earth's atmosphere. The kinetic energy of the wind is captured by the blades of a wind turbine. Kinetic energy is the energy a body has just by moving. This kinetic energy is turned into mechanical energy. The mechanical energy spins a generator creating electricity.
Wind is a renewable form of energy. That means it will never run out. There are three types of wind power. Electric utilities or power system operators provide utility-scale wind. Its turbines deliver more than one hundred kilowatts of electricity to the power grid and then to the user. A home, farm or small business would receive power from turbines of one hundred watts or smaller. This is called distributed or small wind. Wind turbines can be set up on the continental shelf in the ocean. This is called offshore wind.
People often think that a windmill and wind turbine are the same thing. A windmill cannot generate electricity even though it produces mechanical energy. Windmills have been used for many years to grind grain and pump water. The modern wind turbine has over eight thousand parts and is much more complicated than a windmill.
Often wind turbines are put together in an open windy area. This group is called a wind project or farm. The group works as one to produce electricity for use by people. They are connected so that the electricity travels to the power grid. A power grid is a network for getting electricity and sending it to users. Distribution lines which are small collect the electricity at the site and pass it along to larger transmission lines called network transmission lines. The electricity can be sent over long distances and then to users through smaller distribution lines at the other end.
To develop a wind farm or project requires several steps. A site which can capture a great deal of wind must be located. Usually, this spot is on private land. The landowner leases the land to the project developer. Before a developer leases land, he must make arrangements with a power company, borrow enough money to fund the project, order the turbines and hire a construction company.
Wind energy has many benefits. The projects bring money into low-income rural areas around the country. The business is now supporting one hundred thousand jobs. The job title 'wind turbine technician' is widely advertised. Wind energy is an easy crop for farmers to sell. Farmers do not have to depend on water or sun to make money. Farmers received two hundred forty-five million dollars in lease payments from developers in 2016. The companies also pay local taxes which help provide schools and other community needs.
Because wind power does not produce pollutants, health care costs have gone down. It cuts down on asthma and lung disease. The Harvard School of Public Health states that 7.6 billion dollars in medical costs were saved in 2016. The American Lung Association is in favor of wind energy because it keeps the air clean and free from pollution. The organization has a Healthy Air Campaign to promote the use of wind energy.
Wind energy keeps energy bills down for the consumer. It is becoming more competitive with other types of energy in terms of cost. Wind farms leave most of the farmer's land free for other uses while providing a steady income. In the last seven years, the average price of wind power declined by two-thirds.
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