Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

The Modern Wind Turbine

During the 1930s, interest in powering electric lighting and appliances on homesteads across the Great Plains led to the development of small, battery-charging wind turbines. These so-called windchargers were early forerunners of the small two- and three-bladed wind turbines used today to provide electricity for remote residences, and to provide electricity to villages in developing countries.

The oil crisis of the 1970s spurred efforts into developing wind energy as an alternative source of electrical power. Many countries launched programs to develop modern wind turbines. While many of these programs failed, Denmark was successful in developing modern wind turbines. Countries such as the United States have adopted this technology to develop wind energy resources.

The modern wind turbine is the result of design and material advances made during the 1980s and 1990s, which have enabled wind turbines to become increasingly efficient. Today, wind turbines the same size as the traditional European windmill can generate 250 to 300 kilowatts of power—a nearly tenfold increase in efficiency.