Wind Power

New NREL Data Suggests Wind Could Replace Coal as Nation's Primary Generation Source

The new report finds wind is poised to become a dominant and possibly the primary source of electricity in the U.S.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently released data showing that the capacity factor (CF) for wind power can reach 65 percent -- comparable to the CF of fossil-fuel-based generation.

Need a weatherman

ROW after giant row of wind turbines marches towards the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan range, harvesting energy from the air. On a blustery July day in Xinjiang in China’s far west, it is hard to stand upright beside the structures, each 90m (nearly 300 feet) high. China is better known as a land of coal and smog, but it is now increasing the generation of electricity from renewable sources faster than any other country, with more than 100 gigawatts a year of installed generating capacity from wind, a third of the world’s total (see chart). In future, wind power will be a vital source of renewable energy. If it can integrate large-scale wind generation into its electricity network, China will be an example for other countries.

Wind Energy: Energy from Moving Air

Wind Energy Generation

Wind is simple air in motion. It is caused by the uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun. Since the earth's surface is made of very different types of land and water, it absorbs the sun's heat at different rates.    
During the day, the air above the land heats up more quickly than the air over water. The warm air over the land expands and rises, and the heavier, cooler air rushes in to take its place, creating winds. At night, the winds are reversed because the air cools more rapidly over land than over water.