When the wind blows past a wind turbine, its blades capture the wind’s kinetic energy and rotate, turning it into mechanical energy. This rotation turns an internal shaft connected to a gearbox, which increases the speed of rotation by a factor of 100. That spins a generator that produces electricity. Wind power is a sustainable and renewable energy.
Wind farms consist of many individual wind turbines, which are connected to the grid. Onshore wind is an inexpensive source of electric power, competitive with or in many places cheaper than coal or gas plants. Offshore wind is steadier and stronger than on land and offshore farms have less visual impact, but construction and maintenance costs are higher. Utility battery storage can now play a major role in solving the intermittency issue with some renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
Wind Energy Facts
- Texas had more wind farms under construction than any other state currently has installed in 2019
- The state generating the highest percentage of energy from wind power is Iowa at 42% of total energy production
- North Dakota has the most per capita wind generation
- The Alta Wind Energy Center in California is the largest wind farm in the United States with a capacity of 1,548 MW
- GE Power is the largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer
Wind Energy Facts
From January through December of 2019, 300.1 terawatt-hours were generated by wind power, or 7.29% of all generated electrical energy in the United States. As of January 2020, total installed wind power capacity in the United States was 105,583 megawatts (MW). This capacity is exceeded only by China and the European Union.Thus far, wind power’s largest growth in capacity was in 2012, when 11,895 MW of wind power was installed, representing 26.5% of new power capacity.
By September of 2019, 19 states had over 1,000 MW of installed capacity with 5 states (Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and California) generating over half of all wind energy in the nation. Texas, with 28,843 MW of capacity, about 16.8% of the state’s electricity usage, had the most installed wind power capacity of any U.S. state at the end of 2019.
There are Three Main Types of Wind Energy:
- Utility-scale wind: Wind turbines that range in size from 100 kilowatts to several megawatts, where the electricity is delivered to the power grid and distributed to the end user by electric utilities or power system operators.
- Distributed or “small” wind: Single small wind turbines below 100 kilowatts that are used to directly power a home, farm or small business and are not connected to the grid.
- Offshore wind: Wind turbines that are erected in large bodies of water, usually on the continental shelf. Offshore wind turbines are larger than land-based turbines and can generate more power.
Why is Wind Energy Important?
- In 2018, the Wind Industry employed over 114,000 people.
- Texas employs over 25,000 wind energy employees.
- Wind energy provided 6.5% of the total electricity used in the USA in 2019, enough to power 26 million homes.
- Wind projects pay over $1 billion to state and local governments and private land owners each year.
- Wind projects built in 2018 represent $12 billion of private investment.