The wind's thrust has been harnessed throughout the history of humankind: in sailing boats for fishing and the transport of passengers and freight, flour mills, well water raising equipment, electricity turbines, etc. Different winds – in terms of direction, frequency and strength – blow in different parts of the planet. Differences in planet temperatures are transmitted to air masses, where rising warm air causes currents.
Conservation of biodiversity and special protection habitats, and protection of landscape values, are environmental issues to be considered in order for wind energy to progress. Orientation, fitness for wind speed, multiplication and evacuation are critical technological issues that must be resolved for this natural force is to be converted into electrical current . They have been the focus of the R&D&I processes that have made wind energy the most technically advanced and economically beneficial of the renewable energies. In the 1980s, the public administrations in Denmark and the United States began to fund research in this field, and the progress made has been spectacular since then.
The wind turbines on the market in the 1970s had power of 50 kW. By 1995 this was up to 600 kW, and by 2005 turbines of 850, 1500, and up to 2500 kW, were available.
Current wind energy research is directed at obtaining wind turbines with power of between 3 and 10 MW, developing better systems for offshore wind farms (several kilometres from the coast), and its application to hydrogen production and desalination. Micro wind energy – with wind turbines of 1, 5, 10 and 15 kW of power – is also available to provide part of the electricity consumed in homes and rural districts and for groundwater pumping.
At the end of 2007, 94,123 megawatts of wind power were installed worldwide, 31% more than at the end of the previous year. According to data from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the wind energy being installed in the world continued to grow at a rate of 10% in 2012, reaching 282,430 MW, with China, USA, Germany and Spain as the world's biggest producers.
More information about wind power.