Wind Energy

What is Wind Energy?

Wind energy, also known as wind power, is one of the world’s fastest-growing renewable energy technology. It started windmills, a process by which the naturally flowing air in the earth’s atmosphere is used to generate mechanical energy for specific tasks such as pumping water or milling grain. Over the years, the mechanical energy produced is used to turn a generator to produce electricity and is referred to as called wind turbines.

How does a wind turbine work?

The kinetic energy of air in motion(wind) is converted to rotational energy when it rotates the blades of some size and shape around a rotor. The rotational energy passes through a shaft connected to a gearbox which increases the speed of the rotation to spin a generator. Then, the generator produces electricity that can be transformed, stored in batteries, used on-site, or connected to a power distribution system.  

The amount of energy that can be harnessed from wind depends on the size of the turbine and the length of its blades.

Also, the output power is proportional to the dimensions of the rotor and the cube of the wind speed. In theory, the wind power potential increases by a factor of eight when the wind speed doubles.

Source: Treehugger

Benefits of Wind Energy

  • It is an abundant and inexhaustible energy resource
  • Environmental-friendly
  • Once installed, It is very cheap to maintain
  • It is flexible because it can be installed in different locations such as islands or farms
  • Challenges of Wind Energy

  • They are site-specific, often in remote locations. Hence, wind reliability varies according to location
  • High initial cost especially for remote location
  • It can impact wildlife
  • Produces noise pollution due to the rotation of the turbine blades
  • Types of Wind Turbines

    Horizontal-axis wind turbines

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    These are the most common with three blades around the rotor and operate upwind, as the turbine pivots at the top of the tower for the blades to face the wind.

    Vertical-axis wind turbines

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    These are typically unique as they do not have to be adjusted to point in the direction of the wind for them to operate.

    Classification of Wind Turbines

    Utility Scale wind turbines

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    These are usually installed on land and range from hundreds of kilowatts to several megawatts for grid application. They are installed in different sizes and grouped as wind-plant to generate bulk power for utility companies.

    Off-shore wind turbines

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    These are installed in large bodies of water such as oceans or lakes. They are larger than utility-scale and generate a tremendous amount of electricity due to their ability to capture powerful ocean winds.

    Small Scale or distributed wind turbines

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    These are smaller in physical size, usually less than 100 kilowatts, and are used to meet the energy demand of a specific location or remote areas for residential, agricultural, and small business purposes. This type of wind turbine can be connected to other distributed energy resources to form a hybrid energy system such as wind and solar, wind and diesel generator, or with batteries to generate electricity. They can be grid-connected or off-grid.

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