The wind is a renewable energy source that we can use for a variety of purposes. If you’ve ever wondered what the uses of wind energy actually are, then this article is well worth a read. We’ll explore the different ways we can make use of the wind’s kinetic energy. Some of these uses might even come as a surprise to you.
1 – To Generate Wind Power
One of the most popular uses of wind energy is to generate electricity. During this process, a wind turbine harnesses the energy of the wind. As the wind starts to move the blades of the turbine, a generator starts to turn which then produces electricity.
Wind power has increased in both popularity and efficiency since the first electricity-generating turbine was created. Back in 1887, Scottish academic James Blyth built the world’s first wind turbine to provide electricity for the lighting of his holiday home.
Today, the technology exists to allow us to build vast wind farms. Both onshore and offshore wind farms can power millions of homes depending on their size.
2 – In Transportation
Another use of wind energy is in transportation. Civilizations have for many thousands of years made use of wind energy for sailing. Researchers believe that sailing has been in existence in some form since as far back as 5000 BC. In more recent times, we have seen both small and large ships capable of sailing under the power of the wind.
It may surprise you that some modern shipping companies are beginning to embrace wind energy once again. Vessel’s including fishing trawlers and even cargo ships have had large kites installed. These can help to reduce fuel consumption on long journeys by as much as 30% under the right conditions. This is an obvious attraction for companies that spend significant amounts on fuel and for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
3 – For Wind Sports
A more enjoyable use of wind energy is for sports and activities that rely on the power of the wind. Here are just some of the sports that make use of the wind’s energy:
- Windsurfing – This uses a mast and a sail that’s attached to a surfboard on which a person will stand whilst operating the sail.
- Sailing – This more traditional use of wind energy can be used in sports where individuals or teams will race each other.
- Land Sailing – Similar to sailing only this is performed on land with a small vehicle that has wheels and a sail.
- Kitesurfing – A person who kitesurfs will stand on a surfboard whilst holding on to a kite. They then ride both the waves and the air, reaching significant heights in the process.
- Kiteboarding – Similar to kitesurfing only kiteboarding is performed on land and the surfboard is replaced for a smaller wheeled board.
- Kitebuggying – This is similar to kiteboarding only a small buggy is used in replace of a board and the person sits instead of stands.
Whilst you may think that sports such as parachuting and gliding make use of the wind’s energy, this is actually incorrect. These sports are classed as ‘air sports’ and don’t necessarily make use of wind energy for propulsion.
4 – In Food Production
Wind energy has been traditionally used in food production. Prior to the industrial revolution, windmills were widely used for milling grain so that it could be used for producing food such as bread. In more recent times, the introduction of electricity and motors has eliminated our need for such structures. As a result, factories can now produce items such as flour much more efficiently.
5 – For Pumping Water
You may not be aware that wind energy can also be used for pumping water through the use of a wind pump. Wind pumps have a similar look to a traditional windmill but instead of milling grain, they can pump water.
These structures were historically used for the draining of land. Just like windmills used in food production, wind pumps have almost all been replaced due to the introduction of electric motors.
So there we have five of the most popular uses of wind energy. Whilst some are more popular than others, each use has its own benefits. We can use wind resources for our own enjoyment, to reduce our carbon footprint or even to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Nowadays, wind energy technologies that generate electrical power are by far the most popular use. Historically, sailing has been the most popular use of wind energy. Windmills were also very popular, grinding grain for food production.