Imagine a world where there are no more fossil fuels; everything we take for granted - gas for our cars, electronics and heat for our homes - wouldn't exist. It would be as if we'd tumbled backwards into the Dark Ages. Finding alternative energy sources is essential, for if we don't, it's quite possible, if not probable that we lose every modern convenience we now know. The need is urgent. Harnessing the power of the wind is one method scientists are exploring. .
Wind can be forceful and relentless; could it be the answer we're looking for? In 1300 BC, the Egyptians were some of the first to record the use of wind power, as they would catch it in the sails of their boats that traveled down the Nile River.
The first windmills were used around 700 A.D. in what is now the country of Iran. Mostly, the mills were used to grind grain and push water through to the fields for crop irrigation. In Europe, windmills became popular around the 1100's because they could be built anywhere, had many uses and could be used year-round. In the 1800's, thousands of people across North America built windmills on their land, utilizing it's benefits to run their homes and farms. Over a hundred years ago, people began connecting windmills to generators to power newly invented light bulbs and batteries.
The world's first utility scale turbine was built on a mountaintop in Vermont, producing 1.25 MW of electricity. It was 110 feet high and its blades were seventy-five feet long - for its time, it was considered massive. It produced about 1.25 megawatts of electricity. .
Wind turbines are designed to trap the wind's kinetic energy and convert it into electricity, and a large turbine can power up to five thousand homes with the five megawatts of electricity they produce. Horizontal axis wind turbines are extremely efficient, with blade tips turning at several times the speed of the incoming wind. .
It's true that building a wind turbine is expensive, but eventually, the energy it produces will fully offset the original investment.