Wind energy

Wind is produced as a result of giant convection currents in the Earth's atmosphere, which are driven by heat energy from the Sun. This means that the kinetic energy in wind is a renewable energy resource - as long as the Sun exists, the wind will too.

Wind turbines

Tower attached to underground foundation. Nacelle containing generator at top of tower. Blades connect to generator. Wind causes blades to rotate. Kinetic energy converted to electricity by generator.

Wind turbines use the wind to drive turbines directly. They have huge blades mounted on a tall tower. The blades are connected to a 'nacelle', or housing, which contains gears linked to a generator. As the wind blows, it transfers some of its kinetic energy to the blades, which turn and drive the generator. Several wind turbines may be grouped together in windy locations to form wind farms.

To find out more about life on a wind farm, read this article from BBC News: Three steps to build a wind farm.

Advantages

  • Wind is a renewable energy resource and there are no fuel costs.
  • No harmful polluting gases are produced.

Disadvantages

  • Wind farms are noisy and may spoil the view for people living near them.
  • The amount of electricity generated depends on the strength of the wind.
  • If there is no wind, there is no electricity.