When discussing green energy solutions for the wind, a lot of people get nervous. People say wind turbines are unsightly or dangerous to wildlife. These people don’t realize that civilizations have been using wind power for a very long time.
As an alternative energy source, wind turbines produce a lot of energy and produce very little pollution. They are often are placed on hilltops or offshore. The winds offshore tend to be stronger and more consistent. In order to get the best unobstructed wind, feilds of turbines are usually built far enough offshore that they can’t be seen from the beach.
To understand the green energy solutions provided by the wind, you must first understand how they work. Wind is created by the sun heating the surface of the planet unevenly. With one side of the planet in darkness and the other in daylight, one is hotter than the other. Different air temperatures have different density. When hot air rises over cold air, wind is created. In any attempt to produce power, something is generated to move a turbine around. Common methods to accomplish this include running water or steam from burning coal. These methods are harmful to the environment, as they heat the water to unsafe temperatures or release toxins into the air. A wind turbine is a system that captures the kinetic energy of the wind to turn the turbine. Kinetic energy is energy caused by motion. When the turbine blades rotate, that motion causes a drive train inside the turbine to turn. A generator attached to the drive train captures the energy produced, and power lines whisk that power away to the consumer. There is no steam, no pollutants, and no dangerously hot water, only pure, green energy solutions.
The idea of the windmill dates back to the 7th century. In Persia, windmills were first used to turn the heavy mill wheels needed to crush grain into flour. They were mainly used for this purpose until 1887, when the first turbine was created to charge batteries in rural Scotland. The idea caught on fast, and by 1900, there were over 2500 windmills in Denmark. The Danes used the power of the wind to keep back the power of the sea, creating pumps for flooded areas. By the 1930s, many American farms used personal systems for battery charging, but it wasn’t until 1951 that one was finally connected to the power grid in the UK.
Modern turbines haven’t changed much from their original concept. They are made of modern materials and created on larger scales to capture energy more efficiently. One modern adaptation has been the ability to link several turbines together. This allows their energy to be combined and processed by a single substation, letting less power go to waste than if each were wired separately.