Solar4Scholars: Wind Farms
Wind farms, also called wind energy plants, provide most of the power generated by wind in the USA. Wind power plants depend on the availability of the wind. If there is a wind available, there will be wind generated.
Wind is a very good source of energy. The cost of producing energy using wind is very competitive with other forms of energy. Wind now costs about 5 cents a kilowatt hour to produce. Over the next few years and decades, the cost of wind will continue to go down. The cost of other forms such as natural gas is expected to go much higher as no new large reserves of oil and gas have been found in the last few decades.
Wind farms produce energy on a large scale. The three largest wind farms in the world are all found in California. These are found at Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco, in the Tehachapi Mountains and at San Gorgonio Pass, north of Palm Springs. Each of these farms has thousands of wind turbines.
The wind farm at Altamont receives winds at average speeds of 18-27 miles per hour. It is the single largest wind farm in the world with over 7,000 turbines.
The Tehachapi Wind Farm is the second largest, with about 5,000 turbines. The farm is 40 square miles, with prevailing northwesterly winds blowing through passes in the mountains. The site has very limited value otherwise. Between March and September, winds average 15-20 miles per hour.
The wind farm at San Gorgonio Pass has about 4,000 wind turbines in 70 square miles. Hot air rises over the Coachella Valley, forcing cooler air through a pass between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. Wind speeds there average 15-20 miles per hour.