Wind power has been used as long as humans have put sails into the wind
Wind power uses naturally occuring air flow through wind turbine blades to mechanically drive generators to produce electric power. Wind power, as an alternative to burning fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, available nearly everywhere, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, consumes no resources, and needs only small land area. The net effects on the environment are far less problematic than those of non-renewable power sources.
Wind farms consist of many individual wind turbines which are connected to the electric power transmission network. Onshore wind is an inexpensive source of electric power, competitive with or in many instances cheaper than coal or gas generation plants electricity.
Offshore wind is steadier and stronger than on land and offshore farms have less visual impact being remote, but construction and maintenance costs are considerably higher than land based farms. Small onshore wind farms can also feed some energy into the grid or provide electric power to isolated off grid locations and communities.
Wind power produces a variable power output which is very consistent from year to year but which has significant variation over shorter time scales. It is therefore used in conjunction with other electric power sources to maintain a reliable supply. As the proportion of wind power in any region increases the need to upgrade the grid is likely, and a lowered ability to supplant conventional generation production can occur. Power management techniques such as having excess capacity geographically distributed by turbines, dispatchable backing sources, supplementary hydroelectric power availability, exporting and importing power to/from neighboring precincts, or reducing demand when wind production is low, can in many cases overcome these problems. In addition, sophisticated weather forecasting permits the electric power network to be prepared in advance for predictable variations in energy production that would result.
As of 2015, Denmark generated 40% of its electric power from wind, and at least 83 other countries around the world are using wind power to supply their electric power grids. In 2014, global wind power capacity expanded 16% to 369,553 MW. Yearly wind energy production is also growing rapidly and has reached around 4% of worldwide electric power consumption.
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