Power can be harnessed from the wind to pump water or generate electricity. People have harnessed wind energy for power since 5000 BC. The main use of wind has been for sail boats and windmills that pump water and grind grain. The “American multi-blade design” windmill built in 1888 was the first large windmill to produce electricity. The United States, with today’s technology, could produce 20% of its energy needs, which is equivalent to the amount produced from nuclear power. America’s current wind energy production is 3 billion KWh of electricity annually; the energy equivalent of 6.4 million barrels of oil (http://www.altenergy.org/renewables/wind.html).
Currently wind generated power is the most promising new source of energy as it has become affordable enough to compete with oil. Wind energy, like solar energy, is a clean, free, and inexhaustible resource. However, there are some drawbacks to wind energy systems which include: (1) windmills have moving parts which can be costly to maintain, (2) the amount of wind available may be inadequate in certain areas; (3) to produce a significant amount of energy a large number of windmills and a large land base is needed, and (4) operation of windmills is hazardous to birds, however, the industry is taking many steps to reduce or eliminate bird-windmill interactions.
Wind Generation Study
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently published in the Federal Register voluntary interim guidelines to help energy companies avoid and minimize wildlife impacts from wind turbines.