The energy picture for
the country and the world has changed. The price of oil keeps rising,
is becoming scarcer. Changes in the global climate, which are related
to our use of fossil fuels, are
happening at an alarming rate. The need for alternative energy
sources has paved the way for the re-entry
of the windmill to generate electricity.
fashioned windmills, today’s wind machines use blades to collect the
energy. Windmills work because they slow down the speed of the wind.
The wind flows over the airfoil
shaped blades causing lift which causes them to turn. The blades are
connected to a drive shaft that turns an
electric generator to produce electricity.
machine can produce 1.5 to 4.0 million kilowatt hours of electricity a
year. That is
enough electricity to power 150 to 400 homes. The most common type of
wind machine is the horizontal
axis type. Its blades are like airplane propellers.
horizontal wind machine stands as tall as a twenty-story building and
has three blades that
span 200 feet across. The largest wind machines in the world have
blades longer than a football field!
Wind machines stand tall and wide to capture more wind.
plants, or wind farms as they are sometimes called, are clusters of wind
to produce electricity. A wind farm usually has dozens of wind machines
scattered over a large area. The
Big Spring Wind Power Project in Texas has forty six wind turbines that
generate enough electricity to
power 7,300 homes.
machines generate electricity in thirty different states. The states
with the most wind
production are California, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wyoming. All
together, wind machines in the
United States generate 17 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per
year. That is enough to serve 1.6 million
offers a viable, economical alternative to conventional
power plants in many areas of
the country. Wind is clean fuel. Wind farms produce no air or water
pollution because no fuel is burned.
The most serious environmental drawbacks to wind machines may be their
negative effect on wild bird
populations and the visual impact on the landscape. To some, the blades
of windmills on the horizon are an
eyesore; to others, they’re a beautiful alternative to conventional