Wind energy is a converted form of solar energy. The sun’s radiation heats different parts of the earth at different rates, most notably during the day and night, but also when different surfaces (i.e., water and land) absorb or reflect at different rates. This in turn causes portions of the atmosphere to warm differently. Hot air rises, reducing the atmospheric pressure at the earth’s surface, and cooler air is drawn in to replace it. The result is wind.
A wind energy system transforms the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical or electrical energy that can be harnessed for practical use. Mechanical energy is most commonly used for pumping water in rural or remote locations. The “farm windmill,” still seen in many rural areas of the U.S. is a mechanical wind pumper, but it can also be used for many other purposes (i.e., grinding grain, sawing, pushing a sailboat, etc.). Wind electric turbines generate electricity for homes and businesses and for sale to utilities.
EST assists consumers in an effort to gain revenue from their wind resources are generally grouped into three distinct categories of wind development:
- Working with a third-party wind developer;
- Installing a small turbine for on-site energy use; and
- Developing a large land-owned wind energy project.
Most often, a utility’s buy-back of excess electricity generation is negotiated through a process called net metering or net billing. Net metering permits land owners with small energy generators, like some wind turbines, to first use the energy they produce for their own needs and then sell any excess power back to the electric grid using the power lines that normally bring electricity to the customer.
Installing and maintaining a wind energy system can be an expensive, time consuming, and even risky endeavor. However, land owners who own a large wind project in a prime windy location, and who can access a market for their generated electricity, have the potential to earn significant revenues from the project.
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