Since the tenth century, men have used windmills to grind grain and make flour. The wind is still used today, but now we use it to power our homes. It is clean, safe, and naturally reoccuring, making it the perfect energy source. The windmill itself has evolved from large wooden buildings, to the hulking aluminum structures we see today. The huge propeller atop these giant shafts spin in the wind, turning a turbine which creates electricity. When hundreds of these windmills are gathered together, they can create huge quantities of electricity, which then goes on to power small cities and towns.
Wind farms have predictable, reliable output with seasonal and daily variations which can be matched to utility load requirements. Wind resources can also be balanced using a power systems existing load-matching capabilities, or multiple wind sites can be combined to create a flat, stable power supply curve. Because the best wind resources in the Northwest are located in rural areas, access to the transmission grid is a critical component in selecting a site.
Wind power generates no emissions, in contrast to fossil fuel plants which create particulates, greenhouse gases, and acid rain precursors. Although wind is one of the most benign power sources, if not properly sited, it too may have environmental impacts. Wildlife and avian impacts can be the greatest concern, but new tower, blade and turbine technologies and careful siting minimize environmental impactsEconomic Benefits
Wind generation is very competitive with other sources of electricity, especially when factoring in social and environmental costs and the risk of future fuel price increases. But wind projects provide added benefits by keeping more money in local economies, integrating with existing land uses, and providing extra income to property owners in the form of power sales or royalty payments. The Wisconsin Energy Bureau estimates that wind projects create three times as many jobs as the same level of spending on fossil fuels. Portland General Electric estimates that a 240 MW natural gas plant drains $28-55 million out of the regional economy annually for fuel imports.
The worlds largest wind turbine ever built (shown above) with a rotor diameter of 17 m (50 ft.) and 144 rotor blades made of cedar wood. Note the person mowing the lawn to the right of the wind turbine.
The turbine ran for 20 years