Wind power is an alternative method of producing electricity. Large wind turbines are erected in areas that have a relatively constant wind source. Wind moving across the surface of the earth strikes the turbine blades and creates thrust or force. The angled blades turn in the wind and spin a shaft that runs through a generator. The generator has an iron core surrounded by copper coils. The turning of the shaft in the generator produces an electrical current.
Thus, wind turbines are similar to hydroelectric generators installed in large dams on major rivers; they convert kinetic (motion) energy into electrical energy. Wind power is known as a renewable energy source, because the wind is not depleted when electricity is generated from it. It is also a clean source of energy, as the turbines produce no emissions into the atmosphere.
For safe operation of the large turbines, when winds get too strong, they can shut off automatically. Most wind turbines shut off at 45 miles per hour.
Like all energy sources, wind power does affect the environment. Wind turbines take up a lot of space, and can impact some species of wildlife, including bats and birds. Since the bat is restricted in range, turbine complexes should be placed away from caves that the bats use. Prairie-chicken habitat can also be affected by wind turbines. Prairie-chickens avoid tall objects including wind turbines and power lines, which is one reason why some wind power companies are involved in a number of programs to preserve and expand wildlife habitat as further development of renewable wind energy proceeds.