Wind energy can be used for a variety of applications and, in many cases, it can serve as a substitute for conventionally produced electricity. There are different sized turbines that are used for different applications and the size of the turbine correlates with the amount of energy needed for a designated application. Wind turbines are used to generate wind energy for residential-scale onsite energy use, small commercial-scale onsite energy use, commercial onsite energy use, large commercial or industrial energy use, or even utility-scale energy use. Wind turbines of all sizes convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. This power can then be used for specific tasks or it can be converted into electricity using a generator.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), about 4,116 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) (or about 4.12 trillion kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale electricity generation facilities in the United States in 2021. About 19% was from nuclear energy, and about 20% was from renewable energy sources. Wind accounted for 9.2%. About 61% of this electricity generation was from fossil fuels—coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases.
EIA also reports that the United States consumed about 3.3 quadrillion Btu of wind energy in 2021, which accounted for 27% of all renewable sources. These figures are up from 2.7 quadrillion Btu and 24% consumption recorded in 2019. Wind energy in the U.S. is almost entirely used by wind-powered turbines to generate electricity in the electric power sector.
Updated June 2022 by Jennifer Ostromecki
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