Wind is created when the sun heats the land and causes the air to rise. Some areas heat more quickly than others, creating surface air movement. The blades of a wind turbine capture this clean and plentiful source of energy and begin to rotate. The rotational movement drives a generator which produces electricity.
The three-bladed horizontal axis wind turbine is the dominant technology of most commercially-viable small wind turbines. The energy produced from these units can be connected to the electrical grid or used to charge batteries for on-site consumption.
A report by the David Suzuki Foundation shows that Ontario could install 8,000 MW of small and big wind power by 2012, which is 4 times the estimate from the Ontario government and would meet roughly 9% of electricity demand. Currently, there is enough power generated from wind to power over 1 million homes in Canada.
With a combination of technological improvements and an appropriate feed-in-tariff, the small wind industry could be in position for substantial growth (see solar PV industry). This industry could be a significant source of job creation, but it will also need to prove that it can deliver strong performance over the life of a 20 year FIT contract to ensure to investors that the industry is a safe investment.