Although we have only recently developed wind power technology in the last 25 years so that it is a viable source of large scale energy production, the wind has been used by ancient civilisations across the world for centuries – as far back as the Ancient Babylonians 4,000 years ago when they used wind power to pump water to help irrigate their crops. Later, in the Middle Ages, wind power was used to power windmills which were used to help grind corn. Later in the modern age wind power is harnessed by wind turbines and turned into electricity via the aerodynamic blades fixed to a rotor which turn the shaft and in turn powers the generator on the wind turbine.
Wind power is an extremely important form of renewable energy – it is considered the second most important in terms of energy production capability behind only solar power. Interestingly wind power is a form of solar power because wind is formed by the heat from the Sun. It is when the Sun heat our atmosphere to an uneven degree that some patches of air becomes warmer than others which means the warmer air will rise whilst cooler air will be blown in to replace the warm air and that is what causes the shifting wind on our planet.
Typically when discussing wind power there are two main distinctions between domestic and commercial wind power technology. Both involve wind turbines, but when talking about domestic wind turbines you will find that they are very small turbines that are built to provide energy on a very small scale, possible just a house or a very small community. On the other end of the scale, industrial wind turbines are huge constructions weighing many tonnes and they will often be placed together to farm whole wind farms. These types of wind farms can be housed on land or offshore and can produce enough electricity for large regions.
Wind power has both advantages and disadvantages which we will cover in other sections, but what is without doubt is that it is an incredibly important source of energy generation for our future. Along with solar power, in years to come wind power could be one of the largest renewable sources of energy production on the planet. If the technology in this area continues to develop, we may need to rely on our non-renewable forms of energy such as coal, oil and gas much less which is very important because our reserves of fossil fuels are dwindling at a rapid rate on a global scale.
Read more about the advantages of wind power and the disadvantages of wind power in our detailed sections.