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Energy from the wind has been used for hundreds of years to pump water and grind grain. In recent years, wind is being used to generate electricity in Europe and North America, India, China, South Africa, and Brazil. Large and small windmills generate electricity as the force of the wind turns the blades.
Wind power may be the cheapest and best way to replace fossil fuels for large-scale electricity generation. Large-scale wind projects are often connected to national electric lines. For wind energy to work well, constant strong winds are necessary. Coastal areas, open plains, and mountain passes are best for wind power. Because wind in most places is not constant, wind turbines require batteries to store the electricity or a back-up power system (solar panels or a gas-powered generator).
Small-scale wind energy
Wind turbines are used to charge batteries for homes in some parts of the world. But because wind energy relies on constant wind, requires careful measurements to set up and maintain the turbines, and wind turbines may be costly, this may not be the best choice for home or village electricity. Wind may seem better at first glance than solar, because a wind turbine may cost less than solar panels, but in the long term it needs more repairs and maintenance.
(To learn more about wind power and to contact organizations that install wind power systems, see Other Environmental Health Resources.)