Why should kids care about wind energy? Wind is a clean, renewable resource that is good for the environment. Wind machines, called turbines, create energy without burning fuel, so it makes for a pollution-free alternative to oil. Turbines are used today mostly to generate electricity. Finding alternative energy sources in the United States became especially important in the 1970s, when the world experienced its first oil shortage.
People have used wind for energy for thousands of years. More than 5,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians used wind to sail ships across the Nile River. Iran had the earliest known windmills. Many years ago, Americans used windmills to grind corn and wheat.
The top wind-producing states are California, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas. California produces more than twice as much wind energy than any other state. Texas is home to the world’s largest collection of wind machines—421 turbines total.
Horizontal-axis turbines can be as tall as a 20-story building. The blades on some of these wind machines are longer than a football field.
Vertical-axis turbines are shorter, only about 100 feet tall. Their blades move from top to bottom, resembling eggbeaters.
In 2006, wind turbines in the United States generated enough electricity to power more than 2.4 million homes. That’s more than enough electricity to run Los Angeles.