Most types of wind energy technologies can be used as stand-alone technologies, connected to a utility power grid, or combined with a photovoltaic (PV) system. For utility-scale wind power, a number of wind turbines are often built close together, creating a wind farm that provides grid power. Electricity providers are able to use wind farms to supply power to their customers. Stand-alone turbines (those that are not part of a wind farm) are often used for applications such as water pumping or communications. Homeowners and farmers that live in windy areas can also use small wind systems in order to generate electricity for their personal use. Utility-scale turbines typically range in size from 100 kilowatts (kW) to as large as several megawatts (MW). Smaller, stand-alone turbines are typically below 100 kW. Offshore wind turbines tend to be larger than the statue of liberty.[1] 

Wind turbines use blades to collect the wind’s kinetic energy. The blades are connected to a drive shaft that turns an electric generator in order to produce electricity.[2]There are two primary types of wind turbines—horizontal-axis turbines and vertical-axis turbines. Horizontal-axis wind turbines have blades that are similar to airplane propellers and they look like windmills. Vertical-axis wind turbines have blades that connect at the top and extend down to the bottom of the turbine. These turbines look a bit like a giant, two-bladed eggbeater. Most wind turbines currently in use fall into the category of horizontal-axis wind turbines.[3] 

In addition to the different wind-turbine designs, there are also different wind turbine sizes which correspond to various applications. The five main types of wind turbines include those for: residential-scale onsite energy use (<10 kW); small commercial-scale onsite energy (10-50 kW); commercial onsite energy use (50-250 kW); large commercial or industrial energy use (500 kW-1.5 MW); and utility-scale energy use (1.5-7.5 MW).[4] 

From 2000 to 2021, the total annual U.S. electricity generation from wind energy increased from about 6 billion kilowatthours (kWh) to about 380 billion kWh. In 2021, about 9.2% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation came from wind turbines.[5] 

Updated by Jennifer Ostromecki, June 2022