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How Wind Becomes Electricity

Wind basics

Harvesting the wind begins by knowing your crop. Wind is created during daylight hours when the sun heats the land, heating the air above it in turn. This newly heated air rises and expands. As it rises, cooler air rushes to take its place. At night, this process is reversed because the air over land cools more rapidly than the air over water. This air movement is called wind. It is the kinetic energy from this movement that can be converted into electricity.

Cultivating Energy from Wind

Sprouting from the soil of every wind farm are turbines. The most commonly used turbine today is the horizontal axis type. Designed to capture maximum amounts of wind, these turbines are often over 260 feet tall with propeller-like blades that can reach over 300 feet across.

The blowing wind makes the blades turn, generating kinetic energy that powers an electric generator. This electricity is then reaped and delivered to customers through utility power lines.

Feeding the electricity hungry

Of course the most important part of every harvest is actually putting the food on the table. Or, in this case, putting the power in the outlet. A U.S. household typically uses between 6,000 and 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. Capable of producing 3 million kWh each year, one megawatt of wind power can satisfy the electricity needs of 300 to 500 households for one year.

For more information on wind power, please visit the American Wind Energy Association atwww.awea.org.