â€œTheyâ€™re farming a different crop in Wyoming County these daysâ€”the wind. Atop a hill in this little town â€“ population 729 â€“ are 10 windmills that are expected to produce enough electricity each year to provide power for 1,700 homes. Itâ€™s not hard to see what this piece of the future looks like.â€ (Ploetz, A1).
Wind power was developed as a major alternative energy source during the 1970â€™s. The interest in finding alternative energy sources has grown tremendously as people are beginning to realize that they are depleting the Earth of irreplaceable natural resources. The technology is now the fastest-growing energy source in the world. .
The wind turbine, also called a windmill, is a means of harnessing the kinetic energy of the wind and converting it into electrical energy. This is accomplished by turning blades called aerofoils, which drive a shaft, which drive a motor (turbine) and are connected to a generator. This energy is then supplied to a multitude of homes, businesses, factories, etc. .
The worldwide total wind capacity is 13,400 MW and the year 2000 is expected to significantly increase this amount, according to the trend in recent records of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Wind generating capacity has grown from 2,000 MW in 1990 to the present capacity of more than 3,600 MW. It is predicted that worldwide energy supply may consist of 10% wind power by 2020, with Europe alone producing more than 100,000 MW. â€œGlobal investment in wind turbines should .
surpass $200 billion by 2010 as part of a rapid growth in investment in renewable energy sources worldwide,â€ according to Michael Kujawa, senior Allied Business Intelligence Incorporated (Chambers, 14-16).
Presently, Europe is far more advanced than the U.S. in its development and implementation of wind power. However, NASA is using the largest, most expensive wind tunnel yet created to test a huge, high-tech wind turbine developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Gold, Colorado.