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Wind power is growing in Wisconsin. Dozens of large scale wind turbines, as tall as 20-story buildings and producing enough power for 15,000 Wisconsin homes, have been built in the eastern part of the state, on the Niagara Escarpment—and that’s just one example. These wind farms produce no pollution and reduce carbon dioxide emissions (implicated in global climate change) by 250 million pounds per year, equivalent to taking over 10,000 sport utility vehicles off the road. Wind power also benefits the state’s economy, creating local jobs and rural income.Wind power has a long history, and great potential in the present.

History of wind power

Wind power has been used by mankind for thousands of years to ease manual labor. Historically, in Wisconsin, windmills have pumped water for home and farm use. Windmills came into use during the Civil War. Wind-electric plants dating from the 1930s and 1940s can still sometimes be found on barn or house roofs.

Today’s wind power

Wind electric generator design evolved, becoming more reliable and efficient with time. Today, wind electric systems can power a variety of loads, either directly or indirectly. The most common application is the production of electricity. Electricity generated from wind farms is sent out onto the power line just like the electricity produced by coal-fired generators, hydroelectric dams, gas turbines, or nuclear reactors.

Wind power in Wisconsin

Wind power is growing rapidly all over the world, including in Wisconsin. Technological advances have improved the performance of wind turbines and driven down their cost. In general, wind power is only slightly more expensive than our cheapest conventional power sources. In some locations wind power out-competes coal, gas, and nuclear power plants.

How it happens

Modern wind turbines combine ancient knowledge with today’s high tech know-how. The blades use lift to capture the wind’s energy, like an airplane wing, rather than drag, the force of the wind pushing against something. Because of the blade’s special shape, the wind creates a pocket of pressure, pulling the blade. The slowly spinning blades are attached to a generator through a series of gears. As the generator spins, electricity is produced.
Like all energy sources, wind power has effects on its environment.

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