There are several different types of wind energy. At its most basic wind is actually a type of solar energy as wind is formed from the heating of the earth. Winds occur because the entire earth is not heated to the same temperature and land heats up much faster then water. These temperature differences create wind. It is possible to collect this wind energy and convert it into several different types of power and one of the most popular vehicles for this today is the wind turbine.
To collect wind power the wind is used to turn blades in a windmill or turbine which then converts this motion into electricity. This electricity can be used for many different activities including pumping water, powering your home and grinding grains and even stone.
A wind turbine is a tall tower with huge propeller blades. Unlike a fan which is powered by electricity the wind turbine moves due to the wind and this movement is what creates electricity. The blade turns, the shaft spins and this shaft is connected to a generator that produces electricity. The majority of wind turbines use a horizontal axis though there are vertical axis turbines that look more like egg beaters than propellers. The largest wind turbines are horizontal axis turbines.
Wind energy is desirable because it does not create any pollution and is renewable. You can collect as much wind power as you want and there will still be plenty of wind in the future. It also does not produce any greenhouse gases or air pollutants.
While wind energy is very cost efficient the initial costs are still very high, though you will soon make this money up by all of your energy savings. Most of the cost is purchasing the machinery. However there is very little maintenance required, no fuel and very small operating costs.
The main concerns with wind turbines are that the blades may produce a lot of noise and aesthetically they are not very pretty to look at. For this reason, wind farms and even residential turbines are usually placed far away from view and out of hearing distance. The blades also have killed birds and bats that have flown into the blades. Most of the newly designed wind turbines have managed to reduce these issues and it is possible to disguise the turbine using properly placed plants.
As long as there is even a slight breeze you can get power from the wind. However when there is no wind you may have issues. The only way to store wind energy is if you have batteries connected to the system or are directly hooked into the electrical grid. As this technology matures, there will be better options for storage of the energy, making wind power accessible to more people.