Where Is The Wind Used?

Wind Energy

Where is the wind used?

Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical power that can generate electricity. Based on data from EIA, total annual wind energy generation in the United States increased from about 6 billion kWh in 2000 to 380 billion kWh in 2021. The capacity to generate electricity from wind has also grown substantially in recent decades, from just 2.6 GW in 1990 to over 122 GW at the end of 2021. [1]

Globally, wind power generation reached over 2,100 TWh in 2022, an increase of 14% from the previous year according to IEA. [2] Wind power accounted for the largest share of growth in renewable electricity generation worldwide.

The most commonly used wind turbines have a horizontal axis and either two or three blades. The kinetic energy from the wind causes the blades to rotate, which spins a shaft connected to a generator to produce electricity. Modern utility-scale wind turbines can be 100 meters or more in height and have power ratings from 250 Watts to 5 MW or more.

Wind power is considered a clean and renewable source of electricity generation. Converting wind into electricity does not create air or water pollution, generate greenhouse gases, require water for cooling, or produce hazardous waste. However, wind power development can have local environmental impacts related to land use, viewshed, habitat loss, and bird/bat mortality.

[1] https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/wind/electricity-generation-from-wind.php
[2] https://www.iea.org/energy-system/renewables/wind


Wind power has been harnessed as a transportation method for thousands of years. Sailing ships were the primary mode of transoceanic transportation prior to the use of steam-powered vessels. The wind filling the sails pushed sailing ships across oceans, allowing for exploration, trade, and travel between distant lands. Even today, sailing remains a popular recreational activity as well as a competitive sport. The America’s Cup sailing race features the largest and fastest sailboats in the world. Sailboats and other wind-powered vessels take advantage of this renewable energy source to traverse bodies of water in an eco-friendly way.


Wind is an important factor in providing ventilation in buildings and other enclosed spaces. Both natural and mechanical ventilation rely on wind to help circulate air and provide fresh airflow.

In natural ventilation, winds can assist with airflow through open windows, doors, and other openings in a building. This wind effect helps push stale indoor air out while pulling in fresh outdoor air (Sustainability Workshop). Even a gentle breeze can improve air exchange through the stack effect, pushing air through the building as it naturally rises due to heat. Effective natural ventilation can substantially reduce the need for mechanical ventilation systems and lower energy costs.

Mechanical ventilation also benefits from wind, especially for exhaust ventilation. The negative air pressure created as exhaust fans pull air out of a building is complemented by positive wind pressure on the windward side that pushes fresh air in through planned openings. Controlling the location of these planned openings allows proper airflow paths (Moffitt Corporation). Wind-driven ventilation, when used with fans, is very effective at providing high air change rates.

Overall, wind plays an integral role in ventilation by promoting air circulation and replacement. Both natural and mechanical ventilation systems take advantage of wind effects to provide indoor air quality improvements.

Weather Forecasting

Meteorologists rely heavily on accurate wind measurements to create weather forecasts and predict patterns like storms. By tracking wind speed and direction over time, forecasters can identify trends and model future weather conditions. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, satellites estimate winds by observing the motion of clouds and water vapor features (https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/news/measuring-winds-help-predict-the-weather). This allows meteorologists to visualize wind patterns and flows that may indicate developing storms or climate shifts. Wind data is also critical for predicting severe weather like hurricanes. Overall, meticulously measuring wind is a vital tool that gives meteorologists the observational data they need to make accurate forecasts and warn populations of impending dangerous weather.


Many sports utilize the power of wind for speed and movement. Sports that harness the wind include sailing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, land sailing, kite flying, parasailing, paragliding, hang gliding, and ballooning (List of Wind Sports A-Z – Rookie Road). These are considered wind sports or windsports. They use equipment like sails, kites, wings, and balloons to capture the wind and propel the athlete or vessel across land, water or air (The complete guide to windsports and the wind speed …). Some like paragliding and wingsuit flying are extreme sports, while others like sailing and kite flying are more recreational. But they all rely on the power of moving air to enable exciting sports experiences for participants.


Windmills have been utilized for centuries to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical power. According to Wikipedia, “Windmills have been used to power many industrial processes, including papermills, threshing mills, and to process oil seeds, wool, paints, and stone products” [1]. The earliest known windmills began appearing in Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan in the 9th century CE for grinding corn and extracting water from wells. Windmills were later adopted in Europe during the Crusades and quickly spread across Europe in the Middle Ages. Traditional European windmills were post mills or smock mills that could rotate to face the wind. Today, wind turbines are the modern descendants of windmills that generate electricity from wind power.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windmill


Wind plays an important role in the water cycle by contributing to the process of evaporation. Evaporation is the conversion of liquid water into water vapor. As wind blows across the surface of bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, it increases the rate at which evaporation occurs.

Studies have shown that higher wind speeds result in faster evaporation rates. According to research published in Water Resources Research, wind speed is directly correlated with evaporation from soil surfaces[1]. This is because wind provides energy to break the hydrogen bonds between water molecules, allowing them to escape from the liquid phase and enter the air as water vapor.

By accelerating evaporation, wind plays a pivotal role in circulating water through the hydrologic cycle. The water vapor added to the atmosphere through evaporation will eventually condense into clouds and precipitate back to the surface as rain, snow, or other forms of precipitation. This renewable supply of freshwater is essential for replenishing lakes, rivers, soil moisture, and groundwater aquifers.

Seed Dispersal

Wind plays an important role in dispersing seeds for many plants. As the wind blows, it can carry seeds far away from the parent plant. This type of dispersal is known as anemochory, from the Greek “anemos” meaning wind. Scattering seeds over a large area allows them to find suitable places to germinate and reduces competition between plants (Source 1).

Some plants, like dandelions, have lightweight seeds with tufts of hair or wings that allow them to be carried by the wind. The seeds don’t actively control their flight but flutter to the ground when they run out of lift. This enables the next generation of plants to spread over a wide area (Source 2). Wind dispersal is an effective means of propagation for many species of plants and trees.


Wind can be used to accelerate the drying process for various materials. As wind blows across a wet surface, it increases air circulation and evaporation. This allows materials like laundry, crops, and food to dry more quickly than they would naturally.

One example of using wind for drying is in the fruit dehydration industry. Traditionally, fruit is dried using heat from gas or electric dryers. However, researchers have explored using “ionic wind” technology as an alternative method that could save energy and retain more nutrients. This involves using electrically charged air to speed up drying time (1). Early tests show promise for revolutionizing industrial fruit drying with ionic wind, making it more efficient and beneficial for food quality (2).

Overall, the natural acceleration provided by wind makes it a useful drying agent across many applications.

(1) https://newatlas.com/science/ionic-wind-fruit-drying/

(2) https://www.newswise.com/articles/drying-fruit-with-ionic-wind

Creative Arts

The movement of wind has inspired artists across mediums to incorporate it into their artwork. In visual arts, wind is often personified through depictions of wind gods or wind spirits (source). Wind can also be suggested through flowing fabrics, waving grass or trees, and other visual cues. Famous wind paintings include Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh and Wind from the Sea by Winslow Homer. In music, composers sometimes use wind instruments or sound effects to evoke the blowing of wind. Wind symphonies like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons aim to musically portray the seasons and changing winds. Wind chimes and Aeolian harps also make use of the wind’s movement to produce ethereal music. Overall, wind has been an enduring source of inspiration for creative works across the arts.

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