It is the proverbially windy month of March, when the weather is widely variable, blowing in warmer temperatures and creating spring storms.
If you want to see how windy Iowa (or the entire country) is, check out the Wind Map.
How can Mother Natures’s ferocious power be harnessed and tamed?
Driving along Interstate 80, acres of wind turbines rise majestically over the corn fields and blink in the midnight sky making the wind industry a vital economic resource. The state of Iowa has more than 80 wind installations with over 2,500 turbines capable of producing 3,670 megawatts of power. The turbines generated nearly 27% of Iowa’s total electricity in 2013,2 and more than 50 companies are responsible for employing 3,626 people3 whose jobs are to manufacture, transport, or assemble the giant blades and towers, rotors and generators. Even farmers are compensated for leasing their land, furthering the benefits to the Iowa economy.
With towers standing over 200 feet tall and spinning two or three 116-feet propeller-like blades, how do these behemoth, industrial-sized wind turbines generate electricity? Simply stated, the energy in the wind turns the blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to a shaft which spins a generator to create electricity. However, to learn more, see how a wind turbine works.4 Be sure to hover over the different parts for more information.
As you are out in the last few days of the blustery month of March, consider all the power and energy those winds produce.
References & Resources
4 How Does a Wind Turbine Work? Source: U.S. Department of Energy. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
6 American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) TC 88 Wind turbine systems
Books & Standards
Newton, David E. Wind energy: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015. Engineering Library On order
Edited by Panos M. Pardalos, et al. Handbook of wind power systems. Berlin: Spring, 2014. Engineering Library TJ820 .H36 2014
Warburg, Philip. Harvest the wind: America’s journey to jobs, energy independence, and climate stability. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012. Engineering Library TK1541 .W36 2012
Edited by Charalambos C. Baniotopoulos et al. Environmental wind engineering and design of wind energy structures. New York: Springer Verlag, 2011. Engineering Library QC931 .E58 2011
Index of Wind turbine standards. Source: International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)