Wind energy is a source of renewable power which comes from air current flowing across the earth's surface. Wind turbines harvest this kinetic energy and convert it into usable power which can provide electricity for home, farm, school or business applications on small or large scales.
According to researchers at Appalachian State University, wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity and one of the fastest growing markets in the world today. These growth trends can be linked to the multi-dimensional benefits associated with wind energy, including being pollution-free, sustainable, affordable, and locally produced.
Small and large wind systems
Small wind turbines are quite different from their larger cousins, each playing an important role to meet various energy demands.
Small scale wind turbines (also known as home or residential wind turbines) can either be connected to the utility grid or stand-alone as an "off-grid" application, normally providing electrical power for home, farm, school, or business applications. Small scale wind machines can have blade length between 3ft-30ft, with a 100ft tower, and can power between 1/4 to 6 average American homes (and even more if they are energy conscious). Small wind turbines require average annual wind speeds of at least according to the American Wind Energy Association, the US is the world leader in small-scale wind energy manufacturing markets.
Large scale wind turbines (also known as utility wind turbines) are normally tied directly into the utility grid and are used to provide electrical power for entire communities and municipalities. Each of these large, "utility-scale," wind turbines can have blade lengths up to 150 ft and sit on a 200 ft tower, and produce enough electricity for 500-600 average homes per year.
In general, small and large wind turbine systems share similar components:
Generator and blades to harvest the wind's energy
Nacelle to enclose the internal components
Braking or furling system to provide over-speed protection
Tower to position the turbine in advantageous winds
Wiring to transmit power to controller
Electronic controls to monitor the power and conditions.
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