The wind power industry is primarily concerned with the manufacturing of wind turbines whose wind-driven mechanical power can be used to generate electricity. It is also concerned with the designing and maintenance of such wind turbines. The wind power industry in the United States is quite large, with an installed wind capacity of more than 60 gigawatts (GW). The industry is booming, growing at a rapid pace, as it generates ever more mechanical and electric power to meet consumer demands renewably and sustainably. The mechanical power is used primarily to pump water and grind grain, while the electric power is used to supply current to homes, schools, and commercial buildings.
The wind power industry is mainly concentrated in such industrialized countries as China, the United States of America, Germany, Spain, Denmark, and Canada. In fact, many of these countries are also the leading exporters of wind turbines and other related equipment necessary for wind power generation. Of these, Denmark is the biggest exporter, followed by India, the collective "Eurozone", Canada, and China. The USA is one of the leading wind power producers, owing to its vast wind resources and its utility-scale wind farms. Denmark has topped the list of wind turbine exporters, due to its emphasis on the development of highly advanced wind turbines.
Wind turbines convert wind energy into electrical energy. When the wind passes through the turbine, its blades rotate and turn the turbines' shafts over. This turning motion produces mechanical power, and a generator connected to the shaft then converts the mechanical power into electricity by way of electromagnetic induction. The generated electricity is passed through a transformer, so that it can then contribute to the energy grid's supply across long distances.
The history of harnessing the power of wind is centuries old. In fact, the first windmills appeared in Persia and in the Middle East in between 700 and 900 AD. At that time, windmills were used for grinding grain and pumping water. The idea of generating electricity from the wind was first realized in 1887, when Professor James Blythe of Scotland built the first windmill to generate electricity. However, it was not until the 1890s that a scientist named Poul la Cour in Denmark discovered that turbines with few rotating blades are the most efficient in producing electricity from the wind. It was not until 1980 that a wind farm as we now know them was built in the United States, in the form of a 20 turbine operation in New Hampshire.
Wind energy poses a serious threat to birds and bats. It also produces immense noise pollution, and it is speculated that the production of wind energy close to residential areas also affects the emotional well-being of human beings living therein. Another negative impact of the rotating wind turbines is that they disturb the ability of meteorological stations to predict storms and high tides by interfering in their operations. Some studies also claim that a large presence of wind turbines has the potential to even change regional weather patterns. All of these claims have been refuted by the industry repeatedly, though there are restrictive regulations imposed on wind turbines nonetheless. Most of these aim to reduce noise pollution and ensure the safety of wind turbine workers.
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