Can Earth's rotation generate electricity?

As the Earth is always spinning, can we harness this motion to produce power like turbines do with wind?
17 May 2022


"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.



Can the spinning of the earth be used as a source of electricity, similar to the spinning of wind turbines?


Otis - Alternative energy sources are always something scientists are working on to combat climate change. So can we use the natural spinning of the earth to generate electricity? I asked for the help of Matt Rooney, head of engineering policy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, to first explain how wind turbines work.

Matt - So wind turbines work by capturing the energy from wind and producing electricity. They do this by having very large blades, so as the wind passes over the blade, this creates pressure differential similar to an aircraft wing. This creates the rotational force, which drives the turbine and rotates it, which drives a generator to create electricity.

Otis - Sadly, if we were to attach a generator to the earth, like the blades of a wind turbine, the Earth's rotation is just once a day so it's currently too slow to produce any meaningful charge with today's technology. However...

Matt - So in a roundabout way, the rotation of the earth does create the conditions for wind turbines to capture energy from wind because our weather conditions are created by the sun's energy and the rotation of the earth.

Otis - That's right. The rotation of the earth is in a way already being harnessed to generate electricity. Thank you Linda, for asking that question


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