Each year, the 23rd of August is designated as National Ride The Wind Day. "This observance commemorates the anniversary of the first human-powered flight to win the Kremer prize. It was on August 23rd of 1977 that the Gossamer Condor 2, flew the first figure-eight course specified by the Royal Aeronautical Society, at Minter Field in Shafter, California. Slowly cruising at only 11 mph, it traveled a distance of 2,172 meters." If my memory serves me correctly, on this day last year, I blogged about The Gossamer Condor 2 and its creator, Dr. Paul B. MacCready. rather than repeat myself this year, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the wind aspect of this now-famous flight and I came up with a few great facts about wind energy that I'd like to share with you. Let's begin, shall we?
1. Wind energy is the most popular alternative energy.
2. Wind energy was first developed with windmills in 200 BC in Persia and China.
3. Wind energy was then used for hundreds of years to pump water and crush grain. People also used sails on sailboats as a form of wind power and they still do today.
4. The first modern turbine was built in Vermont in the 1940s.
5. Turbine towers normally stand over 328 ft tall (roughly 100 meters). That’s taller than the statue of liberty. Each turbine blade is normally 260 ft long (79 meters).
6. Newer, more advanced turbine blades are extending over 300 feet (91.44 meters).
7. The largest turbine created is located in Hawaii. It is twenty stories tall and each blade is the length of a football field. WOW! I can't even imagine that!
8. Wind energy is the only form of alternative energy that doesn’t require water.
9. Turbines are getting taller to reach faster, more constant winds higher in the atmosphere. The higher you go the faster the winds and the more energy that can be produced!
10. The US has over 500 wind turbine manufacturing plants that produce a majority of our turbines and employ 73,000 people. There are wind turbines in 38 of the 50 states. But the US isn't alone. There are wind turbines all over the globe.
11. Potential offshore wind turbines can have the capacity to produce four times more electricity than the US electrical grid can accommodate. This makes offshore wind energy a great solution for densely populated coastal cities.
12. China produces the most wind energy in the world. The United States closely follows as the second-largest wind energy producer.
13. Wind energy accounts for more than a third of all newly installed US electricity generators.
14. A single commercial turbine can power 600 homes. One small turbine in your backyard could power your home.
15. In 2014, enough wind energy was produced to power more than 17.5 US homes annually. That's every home in Alaska, California, Delaware, DC, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont combined. That’s also 25 times more energy than was being produced by wind turbines in 2000. Just imagine what that number could be in another 14 years!
16. Wind energy is extremely affordable. In 2014 wind energy was being sold for as low as 2.35 cents.
17. And, contrary to a popular believe floating around out there, your TV doesn't shut off just because the wind stops blowing. Wind energy cannot currently be stored but wind-generated electricity can be if stored in batteries. Wind energy is generally supplemented by other forms of renewable energy. I have no doubt, that newer solutions to the problem of what happens when the wind doesn't blow, will be discovered very soon.
PS. The Land of Lily Pad is powered by both wind and solar energies. We are fortunate to have an abundance of both!
That does it for me this Friday. Ride the wind this weekend; paragliding, parasailing, regular sailing, or flying a kite. If you don't have the energy, inclination, or the wind to do any of these things, Why not just lay back and enjoy the cooling freeze of a big ol' fan? Whatever your plans are, have fun and stay safe! Please come back on Monday for another week of blogs as I begin year number five! Can you believe it?