Wind farming generally refers to the generation of electricity through the harnessing of wind power by turbines. Passing air turns these wind turbines, which convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy. Wind turbines and wind farms differ from traditional windmills, because a windmill uses the kinetic energy from wind to power machinery, such as grinding stones.
These power stations can vary in size, with some having hundreds of wind turbines. Such large wind farms can cover several hundreds of miles. The land between the turbines is often used for agricultural purposes, such as growing crops.
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A wind farm can be usually be established in locations where wind speed reaches 10 mph (16 km/h) or more. An important part of the creation of such a farm is the selection of a good location, since this will maximize productivity. Wind farms are typically constructed in places where there is a nearly constant wind, but no threat of violent wind activity, such as tornadoes. These power generating farms can be also be located offshore.
Remote areas are often chosen for wind farming. Since these places are sometimes not connected to a power grid, such a farm will be able to supply any necessary electrical energy. For this reason, wind farming can be an important energy source for developing countries or areas where traditional power lines cannot be erected.
Wind farming is often praised for its eco-friendly nature. When compared to traditional energy sources, such as power plants or coal factories, the negative environmental effects of wind farms are usually regarded as significantly lower. This is because a wind farm emits no emissions, since it uses no fuel. Animals that may graze on the land are also generally not thought to be adversely affected by the presence of wind turbines. Some environmentalists, however, point out that wind farms may be dangerous to flying creatures, such as birds or bats.
One of the disadvantages of wind farming is that it must rely on a constant wind speed, or at least a minimum amount of wind, to produce any energy. In the cases where the wind speed is insufficient, a farm will not produce any electricity. There are also concerns about the amount of electricity that a wind farm can generate. As of late 2009, the largest wind turbine in the world was estimated to be able to produce only enough energy to supply 475 average homes. This could make wind farming impractical for metropolitan areas in need of large amounts of electricity.