Wind turbine energy is generated when wind turns the propeller blades of large fan-like structures that are situated in fields or other open outdoor areas. When wind turns the blades, it also spins a mechanism in the wind turbine that is connected to a generator. This generator converts the wind energy into mechanical power or electricity.
Wind turbine energy is considered a variation of solar energy. Winds occur partly because of the sun’s uneven heating of the Earth’s atmosphere. Variations in the Earth’s surface and the rotation of the Earth also cause winds.
In recent years, interest has grown in wind turbine energy because it is considered to be environmentally friendly. A lot of the electricity in the world is generated by burning coal, natural gas or petroleum or from nuclear power or hydroelectricity. Some of these sources can be pollutants to the environment. Unlike the wind, these other energy sources are limited in supplies. Wind turbine power sometimes is hailed as a good solution for helping to eliminate dependency on fossil fuels.
Like any energy source, there are advantages and disadvantages to wind turbine energy. One of the greatest advantages to wind turbine power is that the wind provides a free source of constantly renewable energy. The technology used for wind turbine power also is fairly simply to set up. It does not require the same level of expertise required for other energy sources, such as nuclear power plants.
The primary disadvantage of wind turbine energy is obvious: No energy is produced if the wind is not blowing. Even a gentle breeze is not enough to generate a significant amount of energy. This requires strategically placing the wind turbines in areas that are consistently inundated by strong winds.
Another disadvantage is the maintenance of the turbines. They often need to be oiled, and the lubricants can be expensive. Finding enough land for the wind turbines also can be a challenge. For this reason, some wind turbine power fields are located along or just off the coast of large bodies of water.
Finally, there are some concerns with preserving trees and wildlife when wind turbine power is used. Birds, for example, can be injured or killed if they fly into the spinning blades of a wind turbine. One suggestion to avoid this is to paint the blades a bright color so they are seen more easily. Trees also might have to be cut down and cleared out around a wind turbine so that the wind is not blocked.