Wind Energy Basics


This video provides an overview of the National Wind Technology Center and its research. Video produced for NREL by Fireside Production. We have been harnessing the wind’s energy for hundreds of years. From old Holland to farms in the United States, windmills have been used for pumping water or grinding grain. Today, the windmill’s modern equivalent—a wind turbine—can use the wind’s energy to generate electricity. How It Works Wind turbines, like windmills, are mounted on a tower to capture the most energy. At 100 feet (30 meters) or more aboveground, they can take advantage of the faster and less turbulent wind. Turbines catch the wind’s energy with their propeller-like blades. Usually, two or three blades are mounted on a shaft to form a rotor. A blade acts much like an airplane wing. When the wind blows, a pocket of low-pressure air forms on the downwind side of the blade. The low-pressure air pocket then pulls the blade toward it, causing the rotor to turn. This is called lift. The force of the lift is actually much stronger than the wind’s force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag. The combination of lift and drag causes the rotor to spin like a propeller, and the turning shaft spins a generator to make electricity.

Wind Energy Basics from nrel’s National Wind Technology Center


We have been harnessing the wind’s energy for hundreds of years. From old Holland to farms in the United States, windmills have been used for pumping water or grinding grain. Today, the windmill’s modern equivalent—a wind turbine—can use the wind’s energy to generate electricity. Much of the wind industry’s success can be attributed to the research conducted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). Funded by the US Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Program, research conducted at the NWTC has led to the development of multi-megawatt wind turbines that produce electricity at a cost that is starting to compete with conventional energy sources in the marketplace. For a text version of this video, visit www.nrel.gov

Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems

  • ISBN13: 9781603580304
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The availability of clean, renewable power is without question going to be the defining challenge and goal of the 21st century, and wind will lead the way.Internationally acclaimed wind energy expert Paul Gipe is as soberly critical of past energy mistakes as he is convincingly optimistic about the future. The overwhelming challenge of transforming our world from one of fossil carbon to one of clean power seems daunting at best—and paralyzingly impractical at wors… More >>

Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems