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Energy Conversion

Different forms of energy—such as electrical, chemical, and thermal energy—often change to other forms of energy.

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Farming the Wind

Farming the Wind

When you hear the word farm, you probably don’t picture a surreal scene like the one above. But these tall machines are some of the 4000 wind turbines on Altamont Wind Farms near San Francisco, California. Are there wind farms in your part of the world? If not, there may well be in the near future.


Why It Matters

  • People have been using wind power for thousands of years. Wind blows because of energy from the sun. It will always be available for people to use.
  • As people try to develop energy sources to replace fossil fuels, they are turning increasingly to the wind as an option. The wind turbines on a wind farm generate electricity that can power homes and businesses.
  • Watch this video to learn more about Altamont Wind Farms and how the wind is used to produce electricity: http://www.exploratorium.edu/tv/index.php?project=104&program=1383

What Do You Think?

Read about using the wind for energy at the link below. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is wind? What causes it?
  2. People have been using wind power for centuries. How?
  3. How do modern wind turbines work?
  4. Why is Altamont Pass a good place for a wind farm?
  5. What happens to the electricity generated by wind turbines at Altamont Pass? How much electricity does each turbine produce?
  6. At the current pace of wind farm development, what proportion of the world’s electricity needs will be provided by wind power by 2050?
  7. List pros and cons of using wind energy to produce electricity. What do you think? Should more wind farms be developed, or do their cons outweigh their pros?

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