Do you know that wind is a type of solar energy? Wind is produced because of the irregular heating of the atmosphere, the unevenness of the earth’s surface, and rotary motion of the earth. The patterns of wind flow are customized by the earth’s territory, water bodies, and vegetative wrap. When we harvest this wind using modern wind turbines, electricity is generated.
How Wind Energy Is Generated:
We all know that there is a kinetic energy in wind and this kinetic energy gets converted into wind or mechanical energy by the wind turbines. Generated wind or mechanical energy can be used as pumping water or grinding grain. By using a generator this energy can be converted into electricity which can be used in our houses, offices and malls.
How Wind Turbines Work:
Any wind turbine such as aircraft propeller blade, roll in the moving wind and power an electric generator that provides electricity. In easy terms, a wind turbine is reverse of a fan. A fan usage electricity to run it and turbines generate electricity to run a fan. The wind revolves the blades resulting spinning of a shaft, which is finally connected to a generator and generates electrical power.
Types of Wind Turbines:
There are two fundamental Modern wind turbines group
. Horizontal Axis (Conventional windmills which are used to pump the waer)
. Vertical axis (mostly used turbine is Horizontal Axis.)
Below are the main components of wind turbines:
- blade or rotor, it actually converts the energy in the wind to rotational shaft energy;
- a drive train, this will have a gearbox and a generator;
- a tower that supports the rotor and drive train; and may be more including controls, electrical cables, ground support equipment, and interconnection equipment.
The image below describes the functionality of a wind turbine
So many wind turbines are repeatedly collectively grouped into a single wind power plant, also known as a wind farm, and generate bulk electrical power. Electricity from these turbines is fed into a utility grid and distributed to customers, just as with conventional power plants.
Wind Turbine Size and Power Ratings:
Wind turbines have a variety of sizes, and their ratings depend upon sizes. The largest machine has blades that length more than the length of a football field, stands 20 building stories high, and produces enough electricity by which electricity can be produced for 1400 houses. A small home-sized wind machine has rotors between 8 and 25 feet in diameter and stands upwards of 30 feet and can supply the power needs of an all-electric home or small business. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 50 to 750 kilowatts. Single small turbines, below 50 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping.
Wind Energy Resources in the United States:
Wind energy is very abundant in most parts of the United States. Wind resources are characterized by wind-power density classes which have class 1 (the lowest) and class 7 (the highest). Example of good wind resources are class 3 and above which have an average annual wind speed of at least 13 miles per hour are found in many locations in United States. Wind resource typically depends upon the wind speed, because the energy in wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed. So we can say that a stronger wind means a lot more power.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind-Generated Electricity
It’s a Renewable Non-Polluting Resource of Energy:
Wind energy is a free, renewable resource, so no matter how much is used today, supply is not going to finish in the future. Wind energy is a source of clean, non-polluting, electricity. Different from other conventional power plants, wind plants produces no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. U.S. Department of Energy states that, in 1990, California’s wind power plants offset the emission of more than 2.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, and 15 million pounds of other pollutants that would have otherwise been produced. It would take a forest of 90 million to 175 million trees to provide the same air quality.
Machinery cost is at a high end in the generation of wind energy. Even though the cost of wind power has decreased dramatically in the past 10 years, the technology requires a higher initial investment than fossil-fueled generators. If wind generating systems are compared with fossil-fueled systems on a “life-cycle” cost basis (counting fuel and operating expenses for the life of the generator), wind costs are much more competitive with other generating technologies because there is no fuel to purchase and minimal operating expenses.
Although wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to fossil fuel power plants, there is some concern over the noise produced by the rotor blades, aesthetic (visual) impacts, and birds and bats having been killed (avian/bat mortality) by flying into the rotors. Most of these problems have been resolved or greatly reduced through technological development or by properly setting wind plants.
Supply and Transport Issues:
The major challenge to using wind as a source of power is that it is broken and does not always blow when electricity is needed. Wind cannot be stored (although wind-generated electricity can be stored, if batteries are used), and not all winds can be harnessed to meet the timing of electricity demands. Further, good wind sites are often located in remote locations far from areas of electric power demand (such as cities). Finally, wind resource development may compete with other uses for the land, and those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. However, wind turbines can be located on land that is also used for grazing or even farming.
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