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Energy 101: Wind Turbines

July 30, 2010 - 10:47am

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On Tuesday, the Department announced a $117 million loan guarantee through for the Kahuku Wind Power Project in Hawaii. That’s a major step forward for clean energy in the region, as it’s expected to supply clean electricity to roughly 7,700 households per year, and it also invites a deceptively simple question: how exactly do wind turbines generate electricity?

One thing you might not realize is that wind is actually a form of solar energy. This is because wind is produced by the sun heating Earth's atmosphere, the rotation of the earth, and the earth's surface irregularities. Wind turbines are the rotary devices that convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy, producing clean, zero-emission electricity. This video explains the basics of how wind turbines operate to produce clean power from an abundant, renewable resource -- the wind. 

You can share your thoughts on wind farms like the one in Kahuku with us via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. For more information on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's wind research, see the Wind and Water Power Program's Wind Energy Technologies Web page.

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