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Wind Energy


Wind energy is defined as the “power generated by harnessing the wind, usually by windmills”16. In scientific terms, wind energy is the "force" of winds blowing across the earth’s surface21. Wind energy is usually associated with wind turbines/windmills, but there are other similar concepts out there, check out Floating Air Turbines and Underwater Power.

Wind is caused by uneven heating on the earth’s surface. The equator region receives more heat than say, Antarctica. That heat tries to move from hotter to colder regions. Wind energy was first harvested centuries ago, when early windmills were used to power millstones, pumps, and forges.

Wind farms have been, and are being constructed in upland areas of the British Isles, such as Wales and the Lake District, but they have been objected to because of visual and noise pollution. To solve this problem, engineers have suggested offshore locations, where wind speeds are higher and the impact of visual pollution is dramatically reduced16.

When harnessed, wind energy can be converted into mechanical energy for performing work such as pumping water, grinding grain, and milling lumber21. The amount of kinetic energy within Earth's atmosphere is equal to about 10,000 trillion kilowatt-hours.

The picture below shows how much wind energy is currently harvested by the entire world and a future prediction. Image Source
: WWEA

An efficient windmill can produce approximately 175 watts per square meter of propeller-blade area at a height of 25m3. In 2006, a total of 73,904 MW was generated, so if each windmill has 2 sq. meters of area, that equals to over 200,000 wind turbines working throughout the globe.

Wind Energy Presentation by U.S. Department of Energy - Consumer Guide to Renewable Energy

     
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