Using the Power of the Wind

Windmills were an important part of life for hundreds of years. Most disappeared when steam, gas, and electric engines came along. But now windmills are popping up all over the world. Read the article to find out why windmills are so important. Using the Power of the Wind A Dutch windmill from the 1700s A modern wind turbine 1 Sometimes the wind is just a people or animals. It was backbreaking, little breeze that ruffles your hair. boring work; the millstones had to be Sometimes it’s a roaring gale strong turned for hours on end, day after day. enough to uproot trees and tear off 3 The windmill freed people from roofs. For thousands of years, people this exhausting work. As the wind have looked for ways to use this blew, it turned the huge blades of the powerful force of nature. windmill. The blades were attached 2 Windmills were wind-powered to a shaft, which was connected to machines that turned millstones, gears, wheels, and the millstone. As huge stone wheels that were used for the blades turned, the stone turned. grinding wheat into flour. They first This same set up of blades, shaft, and appeared in Europe around 1200. gears could also be used to power Before that, the hard work of turning water pumps, huge saws, and other the heavy millstones was done by machines. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. more expensive. Some people are What Makes Wind Blow? turning again to the windmill as a 4 Of course, if the wind wasn’t source of energy. The blades of the strong enough, the blades would not windmill can power a machine that turn. That is the main problem with makes electricity. Wires carry the using wind as a power source: it is electricity to cities and towns. not always the same. Wind can be strong or weak, steady or gusty. It 7 Today’s windmills look very might change direction or die down. different from those that turned Wind is created as the sun warms millstones in Europe. They have the earth. As the earth warms, the a new name, too. They are called air just above it grows warm, too. It wind turbines. The blades of a wind expands and rises. Cooler air from turbine look like a giant airplane above rushes down to take its place. propeller. The round part of the That movement is the wind. Different windmill that held all the gears and parts of the earth grow warm and the millstone has been replaced by cool off at different rates, so wind is poles that soar two hundred feet into uneven. the air. There may be hundreds or thousands of these on a “wind farm.” 5 Wind did not always give steady power, but windmills were Problems with Wind Turbines still valuable. Until the arrival of the 8 Many people think that wind steam engine in 1900, they were the power is the best source of energy for most powerful machines around. the future. However, some disagree. Two hundred years ago, they dotted People who live close to wind farms the land in Europe. There were are often bothered by the noise the 10,000 windmills in Holland. In the wind machines make. At times western United States, there were six it can be quite loud. The sight of million windmills. They were used hundreds of wind machines across a to pump water from deep below the field disturbs some, too. In addition, dry ground. wind turbines can affect wildlife. There have been cases where birds What’s Old Is New Again were killed by the machines. Birds 6 Most of those American cannot see the whirling blades, and windmills are gone now. They sometimes they fly into them. were replaced by electric and gas engines after the 1940s. Now gas and 9 The owners of wind farms must electricity are disappearing and are work hard to correct these problems. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. They must be careful when they choose where to locate the wind machines. They must be sure not to place them too close to houses. They must also be sure not to place them on the flight paths of birds that migrate. Engineers are constantly working to make the turbines quieter. 10 The future of wind energy is not clear. Will people decide that the bad effects of wind farms are worth it? Using energy made by wind machines is good for the earth. It helps people depend less on gas, oil, and coal. These all produce air pollution. Time will tell whether wind turbines are here to stay, or if they will disappear like the windmills of old. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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