What Is Wind Energy? Its Solar And Renewable

So, what is wind energy?

The increasing pressures of global warming means that more people than ever want to know what it is all about.

Hi, it’s good to see you here.

If you came from any of my other pages you know that this site is not just hot air.

But on this page it’s different. Hot air and wind go together.

I’ll explain.


If you're in a hurry to apply wind energy now then... what is wind energy? It comes from temperature differences over land and sea. Want to build yourself a wind generator? You can actually do this. Download your free DIY wind energy turbine plans here.

What is wind energy? A little history

People have used wind energy for thousands of years.

The earliest known use of wind power is by the Egyptians some 5000 years ago, who used it to sail their boats from shore to shore on the Nile. Around 2000BC the first windmill was built in Babylon.

And is wasn’t The Netherlands but Afghanistan that was using large windmills, as high as 30 feet, with 16-foot long blades by the 10th century BC.

That’s a little history but what is wind energy really?

This is where the hot air comes in. The source of wind is the nuclear-powered sun. Food for thought mmm…

And you can actually build your own wind generator to take full advantage of this free energy source.

Go here for more wind energy facts

What is wind energy? Hot air?

Wind is air in motion. The Earth’s surface absorbs the warmth of the sun at different rates. It depends whether it is water or land, and whether land is covered by dark vegetation, sand or ice.

Darker oceans, full of plankton, absorb more solar heat than clear waters do and forested areas absorb more than ice-covered glaciers, mountain tops and the Arctic and Antarctic Poles.

This means that the air above land heats up more quickly over land than over water, and more over darker areas compared to those that reflect sunlight. When this warmer air rises during the day, as it does, cooler air from nearby oceans or lakes rushes into this ‘vacuum’ which creates wind.

At night this flow is reversed as the air over land cools more quickly than that over water.

The larger, global wind patterns, like the prevailing trade winds, are created by the differences in air temperature between tropical and polar regions.

So, factors that influence wind patterns are

  • Change of seasons
  • Day and night
  • Land and water reflectivity
  • Humidity
  • Friction of wind over different terrain, and
  • The Coriolis effect

"Coriolis effect",you ask?

Well, the Coriolis effect is that where cyclones spin counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere. These movements are caused by the rotation of the Earth.

What is wind energy? – Is it renewable?

Whereas we still sail ships, this is now mainly for pleasure, not for commerce. Wind energy is used mainly for generation of electricity.

The sun’s energy in interaction with the Earth’s surfaces creates the winds and as long as the sun is up there, wind is a renewable energy source.

When the sun has reached the end of its life in about 5Billion years, who knows who will be around then to worry about the relative merit of wind energy as a renewable energy source? Wind energy therefore is a type of solar energy and renewable.

What is wind energy? Sun energy converted to wind energy

About one to three per cent of solar energy reaching the Earth is converted into wind energy. That may not sound like a lot but given the enormous amounts of energy coming from the sun it is.

Wind energy is still 50 to 100 times greater than the solar energy converted by all the Earth’s vegetation into biomass through photosynthesis.

Most wind energy occurs at high altitudes. Here wind speeds are continuous of more than 160 km per hour. Like all energy wind energy eventually disperses into diffuse heat, spread throughout the Earth’s atmosphere and surface. This happens through friction between the wind and all uneven surfaces.

What is wind energy? Is it all good?

James Lovelock, in his latest book about Gaia talks about the increase in huge wind farms and their potential to create a sizeable vortex that might affect local climate. That does not seem far-fetched in the light of the information on wind energy that you have just read.

So wind energy finds its source in the sun, many miles from Earth. It has been used for a long time and is now mainly used to generate electricity – but let’s not forget wave power – and it’s all about hot air.

Oh, and for something completely different. Heard of the Whisson windmill, creating water out of air? No? Just go here and find out.

And, don’t forget, all forms of energy carry advantages and disadvantages.

More about that on another page, about wind power energy.

And if you want to know still more about what is wind energy, check out some wind energy facts.

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