Wind Energy

Since early-recorded history, people have utilized wind energy. The people of the Nile River used it to propel their boats as early as 5000 B.C.E. The Persians used it to pump water and grind grain between 500 and 900 B.C. From Persia, windmills spread into neighboring regions and became a widely used equipment in the production of food [5].

Today electricity is generated through the use of a wind turbine. The blades of a turbine are mounted on a shaft to form a rotor. Wind turns the blade which in turn causes the rotor to move. Between the lift and drag of the the blade, the rotor spins like a propeller, turning the shaft which spins a generator to make electricity [4].

Wind turbines are generally placed together to create a wind farm for large scale usage by utility companies. Some wind turbines are used as standalone systems but only for water pumping, communications, or farming.

Government Oversight


Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Similar to solar energy the DOE is connected to more patents in wind energy than any other organization. The U.S. wind energy supports 75,000 U.S. jobs, including workers at more than 400 manufacturing plants in 44 states. The Wind Program, part of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office within the EERE, works to enable the expansion of clean, affordable, and reliable domestic wind power [3].

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: The NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) developed multi-megawatt wind turbines used within industry that produce electricity at a competitive cost to other energy sources. Their research continues to focus on building industrial sized and efficient turbines. The NREL also collects high-quality renewable energy resource data under the GIS program. This includes comprehensive data on wind resources within the U.S. [4].

  • In a report released in July of 2012, the NREL estimated a wind power resource of around 4200 GW off the coast of the United States [7], four times the current generating capacity of the U.S. grid.


Bureau of Land Management: The BLM manages 20.6 million acres of public lands that contains wind potential. The BLM has approved 39 wind energy development projects within the west, totaling an energy capacity of 5,500 MW. The BLM has authorized 100 wind energy-testing sites. The BLM currently has 29 pending wind energy applications [5].

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: The BOEM is currently working towards offshore wind energy for the U.S. Offshore wind turbines are currently used by a number of other countries in order to harness wind energy. 53% of the U.S. population lives along the coast where energy costs and demands are high and land-based renewable energy resources are often limited. Thus offshore wind resources have the potential to supply immense quantities of renewable energy to major U.S. coastal cities. Offshore winds generally have higher speeds and more uniform than on land. This allows for a larger amount of electricity to be produced as it is directly proportional to the cube of the wind speed [6].