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Wind

Wind Energy refers to technology that converts the air’s motion into mechanical energy usually for electricity production.

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What is Wind?

Wind Energy captures the natural wind in our environment and converts the air’s motion into mechanical energy. Wind is caused by differences in atmospheric pressure. Wind speeds vary based on geography, topography and season. As a result, there are some locations better suited for wind energy generation than others. In general, wind speeds are higher near the coast and offshore since there are fewer objects like vegetation, mountains and buildings to slow them down. 1 2

The mechanism used to convert air motion into electricity is referred to as a turbine. A turbine is a large structure with several spinning blades. These blades are connected to an electro-magnetic generator that generates electricity when the wind causes the blades to spin.

 

 

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Traditionally, this energy was used for milling grain and pumping water, but today it is most commonly used to create electricity. Wind energy is becoming an increasingly important part of the global electricity supply mix.3

A major advantage of wind is that it is a clean and renewable form of energy. Its production of electricity has no direct carbon emissions or air pollutants and does not consume water. Wind also has relatively low operations and maintenance costs after initial construction.

However, wind energy also faces several challenges. Wind speeds can vary throughout the day and year, causing intermittency issues for power grids.

The price tag of wind power has traditionally been higher than conventional electricity generation sources, though the wind cost curve has declined significantly in recent years. NIMBY concerns such as land use, noise, and bird disruption have also been raised in certain areas

  1. National Weather Service (2010). Origin of winds. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream//synoptic/wind.htm 
  2. NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy (2001). Global Wind Speeds. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=1824
  3. International Panel on Climate Change (2011). Potential of renewable energy outlined in report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/ipcc33/PRESS%20RELEASE%20Updated%20version%20-%20Potential%20of%20Renewable%20Energy%20Outline.pdf
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