Wind Turbines - How to Harvest the Wind
By Hans Dekker
Wind is produced from the uneven heating of the atmosphere and irregularities in the earthâ€™s surface. The air movement between these areas is what we refer to as wind. Just as we can use flowing water to turn turbines, we can harness the power of the wind with wind turbines to create electricity.
Wind turbines have been in use since the 1920s. Their earliest use was to provide electricity in remote areas that didnâ€™t have access to a large utility company. Today there are fewer areas that are "off the grid" but wind power can now be used to supplement traditional power sources.
Wind turbines can be used individually to provide power for a household, or they can be used in arrays to provide electricity on a large scale. These arrays of industrial sized turbines are called "wind farms" and are usually situated in areas that receive consistent strong winds. Coastal areas, hilltops, and mountain passes are common areas for wind farms.
Thanks to advances in wind turbine technology we are now able to use the wind as an affordable alternative to fossil fuel for producing power. New technologies make turbines more efficient and modern production techniques bring the cost of turbines down.
When used as a supplement for residential electricity, wind turbines are connected to the breaker box provided by the power company. The power produced is available for immediate consumption, and if the wind turbine produces more electricity than is needed the excess is fed back into the utility grid for a credit on the homeowners power bill.
For those interested in living "off the grid" wind power can be used in conjunction with other alternative energy sources such as solar power. These two methods of producing electricity complement each other, when the sun is strong, the wind may be low, and the wind may be stronger on cloudy days.
Also, since solar power is not produced at night, a wind turbine can provide the electricity at this time.
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