You may already know that wind energy is a type of renewable energy. That is, energy derived from earth’s natural resources that are not finite or exhaustible. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into this topic, answering questions like: What is wind energy and what are the advantages of it? What is a wind turbine? How is wind power made?
First, let’s start with the basics.
What is wind energy?
Unlike non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), we won’t run out of wind. And unlike fossil fuels, which omit harmful greenhouse gases, wind power is clean energy. That makes it a very attractive source to tap for residential and commercial electricity needs.
In fact, wind remains the leading non-hydro renewable technology. In 2022, it represented more than 10% of the country’s total electricity generation. That’s quite a lot when you consider that number was only .27% just two decades earlier.
Did you know? Wind is actually a byproduct of another source of renewable energy — the sun! It is caused by the uneven heating of Earth and Earth’s own rotation. As long as the sun’s rays continue heating our planet, we will continue to have wind.
How is wind power made?
Capturing the power of the wind isn’t easy. But technology has advanced over the years, making it possible to add more wind-generated electricity to the grid.
It all starts with wind turbines and wind farms.
What is a wind turbine?
Wind power is produced using wind turbines — modern-day windmills. The most common type of wind turbine is the horizontal-axis turbine. It features a tall column and typically has three blades at the top that look like an airplane propeller.
How does a wind turbine create electricity?
When the wind blows, it turns the turbine’s blades, which spin a shaft connected to a generator. This produces electricity, which is sent to the electric grid.
Check out this quick video, which explains the process.
What is a wind farm?
A wind farm is an area of land containing a cluster of wind turbines. As of 2023, the U.S. Wind Turbine Database contains over 72,700 wind turbines spread across the country. You can learn more about specific wind farms and projects using this interactive map.
But the turbines don’t do all the work. It takes a lot of manpower to bring clean wind energy to the masses.
How many jobs has wind power created?
The construction, installation and maintenance of wind turbines is a labor-intensive process. It takes engineers, electricians, construction workers, technicians, operators and more.
The growing wind energy industry continues to generate jobs. It is estimated that the wind energy industry employed approximately 120,000 people in 2021.
What are the advantages of wind energy?
You may wonder, “What are the benefits of renewable energy like wind energy?”
While it has some limitations, wind power offers many advantages. For starters, it’s a clean energy source. This means generating wind power doesn’t pollute the air with carbon dioxide (CO2) or other harmful gasses that can harm the planet or its inhabitants.
In fact, using wind energy helped avoid 334 million pounds of CO2 emissions in 2022. That’s like taking 73 million cars off the road for a year!
Wind power also creates quality jobs for citizens across the country.As previously mentioned, the wind power industry has created many new jobs for degreed and vocational workers. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks wind turbine service technicians as the second-fastest growing occupation in the country. It has an expected growth rate of 44% between 2021-2031, and a median annual wage of over $56,000.
Additionally, renewable energy (which includes wind power) is a domestic resource that helps achieve both U.S. energy independence and economic growth. In addition to wind generating more than 10% of the country’s energy, other renewables generate another 11%. Combined, renewable energy produced in America amounts to nearly 22% of our power generation. The growth of wind power also added $20 billion of investments in the economy in 2021 alone. Another advantage of wind energy is that turbines can be easily integrated into farms, ranches and other multi-use areas. This provides an additional source of income for the landowner while adding more clean energy to the grid.
Hopefully this guide has given you plenty of information to answer the question, “What is wind energy?” And now that you know what it is, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of wind energy to help create a greener future.
One easy, breezy way is to choose a home electricity plan sourced from wind farms. To see what types of wind energy plans are available in your area, head over to Everything Energy. Simply enter your ZIP code, then select “Renewable Option” from the Filters menu. From there, you can make apples-to-apples plan comparisons to find wind plans that match your lifestyle and preferences.