Wind Energy Overview
Wind energy is a form of renewable energy used to power homes, farms, businesses, and more in the United States. Wind energy dates back to the mid-1850s, but it’s grown significantly in the past few decades. Today, wind energy is the largest U.S. source of renewable energy. Keep reading to learn how wind energy works, what it’s used for, its costs, and more.
How wind energy works
Wind energy generation relies on the daily wind cycle. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the air above land heats up faster than air over water. Throughout the day, that air expands. As cooler and heavier air moves in to take its place, wind is created. And at night, the cycle is reversed.
Humans harness these wind patterns to create electricity using wind turbines, which can be either land-based or offshore. These turbines collect the wind’s kinetic energy using blades, which turn an electric generator to produce electricity. Horizontal-axis turbines and vertical-axis turbines are the two types of wind turbines that exist. Most people are familiar with horizontal-axis turbines and likely envision these when they think of wind farms.
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Wind energy for your home
Wind power is one of the most significant sources of energy to power homes. In fact, large wind turbines can generate enough power in a day to power a single home for an entire year. And states like Texas that rely heavily on green energy use wind power to provide electricity for homes.
While wind energy is used to power homes, it’s not as common as other forms of renewable energy for homeowners to harness themselves. There are small wind electric systems that residents can use in high-wind areas that can help lower their electricity bills. While they’re cheaper than home solar systems, they aren’t nearly as common.
Cost of wind energy
The EIA states that wind power is one of the most cost-effective forms of energy. It costs about one to two cents per kilowatt-hour after you account for a production tax credit that’s available. Wind energy provides a stable source of energy without the price uncertainty that comes with other energy sources.
When it comes to residential wind energy, the price is also one of its advantages. According to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a small wind electric system has an average price tag of $3,000 to $5,000 for every kilowatt of generating capacity. This cost is more affordable than other types of home renewable energy systems, such as solar panels.
Where is wind energy thriving?
Wind energy is the most significant source of renewable energy in the United States. And some states, in particular, have embraced it as an affordable source of energy. Texas is the largest producer of wind energy in the nation, producing more than twice the amount of the second-ranking state. As a result, Texas residents will find that many electricity plans are powered partially by wind energy.
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Wind energy FAQs
What is the history of wind energy?
Wind energy dates back to 1850 when the first wind energy company — U.S. Wind Engine Company — was created by Daniel Halladay and John Burnham. Since then, it’s been an important source of U.S. renewable energy, with generation increasing even more over the past few decades.
What is a distributed wind system?
Distributed wind systems are installed on retail power customer or provider sites rather than at centralized wind farms. For example, a small wind electric system at someone’s home or business would be considered a distributed wind system.
What causes wind?
Wind is caused as a result of the uneven heating of the air above water versus land. The air above ground heats up faster than that over water, which causes it to expand and rise so that cooler air from above the water can rush in, causing wind.
Is wind a renewable resource? Why or why not?
Yes, wind is a renewable resource. It’s harnessed into energy by wind turbines, and new wind is constantly being created thanks to the daily wind cycle.Wind is also one of the greenest energy sources, meaning its generation has fewer environmental impacts.
How does wind energy create electricity?
Wind creates electricity by turning the blades on wind turbines, which then spin a generator and produce electricity.