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What is Wind Power and How Does It Work?

how do offshore wind farms work

Wind Power Starts with the Sun

Wind power is actually a form of solar power, because wind is caused by heat from the sun. Solar radiation heats every part of the Earth’s surface, but not evenly or at the same speed. Different surfaces—sand, water, stone and various types of soil—absorb, retain, reflect and release heat at different rates, and the Earth generally gets warmer during daylight hours and cooler at night.

As a result, the air above the Earth’s surface also warms and cools at different rates.

Hot air rises, reducing the atmospheric pressure near the Earth’s surface, which draws in cooler air to replace it. That movement of air is what we call wind.

Wind Power is Clean and Renewable

Wind power should be considered an important component of any long-term energy strategy, because wind power generation uses a natural and virtually inexhaustible source of power—the wind—to produce electricity.

That is a stark contrast to traditional power plants that rely on fossil fuels.

And wind power generation is clean; it doesn’t cause air, soil or water pollution. That’s an important difference between wind power and some other renewable energy sources. such as nuclear power, which produces a vast amount of hard-to-manage waste.

Wind Power Sometimes Conflicts with Other Priorities

One obstacle to increasing worldwide use of wind power is that wind farms must be located on large tracts of land or along coastlines to capture the greatest wind movement.

Devoting those areas to wind power generation sometimes conflicts with other priorities, such as agriculture, urban development, or waterfront views from expensive homes in prime locations.

And as the cost of wind power continues to decline, due to technology improvements and better generation techniques, wind power will become increasingly feasible as a major source of electricity and mechanical power.

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