Wind energy is certainly not new to the State of Pennsylvania - the earliest European settlers arrived on wind-powered ships, and many windmills were used during colonial times, including a 1746 octagonal windmill on "windmill island" in the Delaware River (Joseph Jackson, Encyclopedia of Philadelphia, 1931).
However, modern wind power equipment is very different from those early attempts to harness the power of the air. Wind energy in Pennsylvania has grown greatly in popularity in recent years, with wind farms now operating at several locations within the commonwealth.
Most commonly, wind energy systems generate electricity using large "windmill" turbines atop tall masts on high mountain ridges or in exposed locations. Modern wind turbines can vary in size, ranging from small 1000-watt residential units to enormous, 5-megawatt turbines that soar hundreds of feet in the air.
Farmers who own land that is suitable for wind farming can take advantage of their location by installing their own wind turbine or by leasing wind rights to a wind power company. While wind energy shows a great deal of promise, it is limited by the fact that wind power can only be generated when wind is blowing at an appropriate speed. However, wind power is still likely to be an important component in Pennsylvania's renewable energy future.
For additional information on wind energy, please visit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)