Renewable wind power is a growing business in the world of green energy, hailed as more efficient than other forms, such as water or solar. In the state of Wyoming, it's especially a growing market. Wyoming has an average annual wind speed of 12.9 mph, putting the state near the top of the list of windiest states, so energy efficiency isn't in question when it comes to investing in wind power. The wind business has continued to become more popular over the years in the Northwest, with big plans to expand even further into the market for this type of green energy.
What Is Wind?
Wind is created when hotter, lighter air and colder, heavier air move around. Air is heated by the sun unevenly, which leaves some areas cooler and others warmer. Hot air rises, causing lower air pressure, and cold air, which sinks, rushing into the space left behind by the rising hot air. This produces wind.
Why Is Wyoming so Windy?
Wyoming is well-known for experiencing high winds, but what makes these winds so fast in the first place? There are a few explanations. The first is a concept called La Nina, which is a name for when the area of the Pacific Ocean along Earth's equator is cooler than usual. This changes how the global wind patterns work, pushing more wind toward the Northwest. This wind gets forced through gaps in the mountain ranges along the western edge of the country, which makes the wind stronger. Another reason for Wyoming's strong winds is the presence of strong storms in the winter and spring that create windy conditions. With all of this wind, Wyoming is the perfect place for the wind energy business to take root.
How Wind Power Is Generated
Wind power is generated by using a turbine to turn the energy of the wind into electricity, a form of energy that we can use. Wind turbines are placed in open areas where there's lots of wind; these groups of turbines are called wind farms. Each wind turbine includes a giant tower with propeller-like blades on top that spin when the wind hits them. The spinning of the blades is kinetic energy, which is energy that involves movement. This movement causes the shaft connected to the blades to turn. That shaft is connected to a generator that converts this energy into electricity.
The energy produced from wind isn't perfect. It's called green energy because it doesn't create harmful air pollution like burning fossil fuels does, but there are still some small negative effects that it has on the environment. Wildlife and their habitats have seen some damage from wind turbines, specifically bats and birds. Collisions with turbines and the changes in air pressure caused by their spinning have caused minor damage to bird and bat populations, though according to scientists, it's not enough to cause lasting impacts or threaten any species. Another issue is CO2 emissions, which contribute to climate change. These emissions are mainly produced during the production and dismantling of wind turbines. But wind power is still by far one of the least CO2-emitting forms of energy production available, making wind power a good choice for cleaner energy.
The Expansion of Wind-Sourced Energy in Wyoming
It has been noted by researchers at the University of Wyoming that an increase in wind turbines being built in the state could generate as much energy as adding coal-based power plants. Business and economic predictions say that this increase in wind energy will create a large number of new jobs as well as more money for the state. In windy places like Wyoming, the wind business is only expected to grow, which should help to reduce pollution and slow down climate change.
- The Environmental Impact of Wind Turbines
- How Do Wind Turbines Work?
- How Air Pressure Creates Wind and How it Moves
- La Nina and its Effects on Climate and Winds in North America
- What Affects Wind Speeds?
- Wyoming Climate Atlas: Winds and Weather in Wyoming
- Wyoming's Increase in Wind Energy Production
- Wyoming Wind Generation Doubles
- Wyoming Sees Big Increase in Wind Power Generating Capacity
- Wyoming Confronts its Wind-Powered Destiny