Wind power is one of America's cleanest and most abundant energy resources. But it only works when the wind blows, making it less reliable than fossil fuels or nuclear power. Can wind power overcome its challenges and secure a place in a clean energy future? This week, energyNOW! looks at how the U.S. is harnessing the power of the wind today, and what lies ahead for this renewable energy source.
Capturing The Wind
The biggest challenge facing wind energy is intermittency. Wind often blows strongest when power demand is lowest, and weakest when electricity is needed the most. Because today's power grid needs electricity to be consumed the moment it's generated, that means wind turbines send electricity to the grid half as often as an average coal plant.
But what if wind farms could store the power that isn't needed right away and sell it later when demand is high? Correspondent Patty Kim visits a new battery storage system built alongside a wind farm in the heart of coal country.
The Midwest's Wind Power Hub
The Department of Energy says the potential for wind power is greatest in middle America, where strong, steady breezes blow across the prairie. But the wind farms built there often have to send their electricity across several states to find the homes and businesses that need it. So how can energy from small-town wind turbines reach big city power sockets?
Correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan goes inside the Midwest power grid's control room and meets the people harnessing wind's power and moving it across the nation.
The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine
Flying a kite has often been considered child's play - until now. A group of inventors are working to turn the kite-flying concept into an airborne wind turbine that's lighter and cheaper traditional wind turbines.
Correspondent Josh Zepps meets the innovators who could change wind power forever.