Q:

How does a windmill function?

A:

Quick Answer

Wind turns the blades, or vanes, of a windmill, which are connected to a shaft generating kinetic energy for a series of functions. Applications usually associated with windmills include electricity generation and groundwater access.

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Full Answer

The windmill is a form of solar energy reliant on uneven heating of the atmosphere, rotation of the Earth and irregularities in the Earth's surface. Wind energy can be defined as the process by which wind is used to generate energy for mechanical or electrical purposes. The key function of the windmill is to change energy from kinetic to other forms of energy.

The predominant use for windmills, or wind turbines, is to create and store electrical energy. Wind power is renewable with little effect on the environment.

Typically, a wind turbine consists of a tall post with three vanes or blades built vertically. The blades either catch or cut through the wind, depending on the side they strike at creating a regular rotation. Modern-day windmills have computer-controlled hubs that rotate the face of the windmill to catch the most wind. Windmills vary in size but larger, lighter vanes make operating at low wind conditions more effective. All energy created is stored in a generator at the base of the post.

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