Dotted across landscapes throughout the world, one can now see small, stick-thin structures with three spokes poking out from the central column. These structures are alarming, and almost sinister, the first time you see them. The world now recognises them as wind turbines, and their presence in the modern world is becoming more apparent.
Wind turbines are man’s primary way of generating electricity using the power of the wind. The versions of wind turbines we see now are merely an extension of an old idea; using the wind for power is no new concept. What is new is using the wind to generate electricity.
In the past, farmers would use windmills – the forerunner to the wind turbine, which in design they closely resemble – to power machinery to grind corn. These windmills can still be seen around the world, with Holland a well known location for windmills. The white structures we see across fields today are simply the 21st century version.
Wind turbines usually have three spokes, which when caught by the wind cause the mechanism to revolve. The spokes spin around driven by the force of the wind, and this in turn is used to power a machine – just like the windmills of old. However, the machines these turbines now power do not grind crops, but rather generate electricity through a traditional generator.
Wind turbines are one of the most – if not the most – effective ways of generating electricity. The energy produces is clean and, more importantly, renewable. So while these turbines may still cause mild shock when viewed in a place one did not expect them, they are nevertheless the future.