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Wind Energy Technology Basics

August 15, 2013 - 4:10pm


Photo of a hilly field, with six visible wind turbines spinning in the wind.

Wind energy technologies use the energy in wind for practical purposes such as generating electricity, charging batteries, pumping water, and grinding grain. Wind energy is a result of the sun’s uneven heating of the atmosphere, the earth’s irregular surfaces (mountains and valleys), and the planet's revolution around the sun, which all combine to create wind.

In addition, because wind power is a growing industry, it’s adding jobs to communities around the country. Currently, there are wind facilities in 40 states that have created over 75,000 jobs for Americans.

Most wind energy technologies can be used as stand-alone applications, connected to a utility power grid, or even combined with a photovoltaic system. For multi-megawatt sources of wind energy, a large number of turbines are usually built close together to form a wind farm that provides grid power. Several electricity providers use wind farms to supply power to their customers.

Stand-alone turbines are typically used for water pumping or communications. However, homeowners and farmers in windy areas can also use small wind systems to generate electricity. Learn more about small wind electric systems from Energy Saver.

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Or read about EERE's wind energy technologies research.