Wind Power

Nebraska has a chance to exploit an opportunity for community-based energy development using wind technology.

That word from nationally known wind energy pioneer Dan Juhl of Pipestone, Minn. Juhl spoke Friday at the 90th Annual Nebraska Farmers Union state convention in Grand Island.

Juhl says wind energy could pump hundreds of million of dollars into economically-depressed rural communities.

Juhl says Nebraska ranks fourth nationally in wind power potential. But he says Nebraska is way behind compared with surrounding states in developing that energy resource.

A recent Nebraska Public Power survey showed 96-percent of the public is in favor of developing wind power even if it costs a little more.

Juhl says the onus is on Nebraska Public Power to proceed with rural economic development in mind. He says it will not do good economically if huge contracts are awarded to out-of-state corporations.

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Quick Facts About Wind Energy

What is wind energy?

The terms "wind energy" or "wind power" describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity.

Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water) or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity to power homes, businesses, schools, and the like.

What causes the wind to blow?

Wind is a form of solar energy. Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth's surface, and rotation of the earth.

Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth's terrain, bodies of water, and vegetative cover. This wind flow, or motion energy, when "harvested" by modern wind turbines can be used to generate electricity.

When was wind energy first used?

Since earliest recorded history, wind power has been used to move ships, grind grain and pump water. There is evidence that wind energy was used to propel boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C. Within several centuries before Christ, simple windmills were used in China to pump water.

In the United States, millions of windmills were erected as the American West was developed during the late 19th century.

Most of them were used to pump water for farms and ranches. By 1900, small electric wind systems were developed to generate direct current, but most of these units fell into disuse as inexpensive grid power was extended to rural areas during the 1930s.

By 1910, wind turbine generators were producing electricity in many European countries.

How is the energy in the wind captured?

Wind turbines, like aircraft propeller blades, turn in the moving air and power an electric generator which supplies an electric current. Modern wind turbines fall into two basic groups; the horizontal-axis variety, like the traditional farm windmills used for pumping water; and the vertical-axis design, like the eggbeater-style Darrieus model, named after its French inventor.

Modern wind technology takes advantage of advances in materials, engineering, electronics, and aerodynamics. Wind turbines are often grouped together into a single wind power plant, also known as a wind farm, and generate bulk electrical power.

Electricity from these turbines is fed into the local utility grid and distribute to customers just as it is with conventional power plants.

Source: http://www.eren.doe.gov/wind/web.html (U.S. Department of Energy).


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