Wind Generated Power:
Wind Power Facts Support
Wind Power as a Viable Alternative
Wind generated power is one of the most popular
alternative energy sources
. It is a clean and renewable energy source. Wind power today accounts for 1.5% of the world’s energy production. With costs of wind power systems coming down, we will soon see an increase in this number.
In some countries, the use of wind generated power is as high as 19% of their energy consumption. Denmark, Germany, the United States, and Spain are the forerunners in the implementation of this technology. Offshore wind farms are being developed in Denmark, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
Once those projects are in full swing, these countries will have enough wind generated power to meet all of their electricity needs. Currently, Europe’s wind power stations and turbines account for over 50 per cent of the wind energy production in the world.
The United States has increased its capacity for wind energy production threefold in the last 5 years. It is estimated that in the United States, three states alone—North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas—have wind currents capable of providing electricity for the whole of the United States. Texas wind power is leading the race among states.
Many countries are expanding their research and implementation of wind power to help meet their energy needs. Estimates indicate that by next year the world production of wind generated power will more than double from the figure of just three years ago. The potential of all recoverable wind energy would be enough to not only meet but exceed the current worldwide needs.
History of Wind Power
People have been harnessing wind power since ancient times. The first wind machines built in Persia used sails—inspired by sail ships—and were used to grind grain and pump water. This design was used in China, the Mediterranean, and Europe as late as 1800.
The wind power windmill was instrumental in helping settlers in North America to conquer the West. The first windmills were made of wood and later steel. Advances in technology made it possible for wind generated power machines to supply electricity to remote areas. Further advances have led to modern day wind turbines and wind farms.
How Wind Power Works
The Sun’s heat warms the Earth’s surface, hot air rises, and cooler air fills in the empty space, thus wind is created. Wind blows more steadily and strongly is mountain passes, ridge tops, seashores and plains.
Wind energy is captured using turbines that stand alone or in groups commonly referred to as wind farms. The turbines convert the motion of the blades into electricity. The blades are attached to a system of gears and a generator inside a pod or casing, called the nacelle. The electricity produced is transferred via cables into the national grid or directly into a home or wherever it is intended for use.
Home wind power generators can supply enough electricity for a home and any surplus can be fed back and sold to the utility company—in some communities where available—thereby offsetting an individual’s home energy costs.
The first windmill design used to generate electricity, dating back to the late 1800s, produced 12 kilowatts of electricity. Today’s wind power windmill with its improved blade design and lightweight materials can generate as much as 600 kilowatts. Few sites have strong enough winds for these turbines, however. The average turbine is designed to generate about 55 kilowatts.
Today, wind turbines can be found all over the world. They are nothing like the windmills of the past. The majority are called Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT). They are very large scale, around 260 feet tall, and generally have three long blades, measuring up to 164 feet long (50 meters), mounted atop a tall tower.
The taller the better, as wind blows stronger and steadier high above ground level. Vertical axis wind power turbines are not as efficient since they are constructed close to the ground. You can see wind turbines along highways in big cities and elsewhere quite commonly these days.
Wind Power for Homes
Small-Scale Wind Power
Small-scale wind generated power systems produce less than 50 kW of power. These systems along with battery backups have been used for decades in remote areas for homes—replacing diesel-powered generators. Individuals may choose to install these systems to limit their reliance on utility power grids for economic or environmental reasons.
Wind turbines can be connected to the grid or not. Off-grid homemade wind power systems can store energy in batteries or supplement their energy needs with a
solar energy system
. You can use a combination of renewable, clean energy systems to meet all your energy needs and reduce your
to a minimum.
Disadvantages of Wind Power
The main and obvious disadvantage of wind power is that the turbines produce power only when the wind is blowing. The strength and speed of blowing wind fluctuates constantly depending on location and climatological factors.
Modern wind turbines are huge and take up a lot of space and affect the wildlife in the area. And more importantly, for some, is that they are unattractive and noisy.
The best solution to all of these problems is offshore wind farms. Building turbines out at sea would keep them off land and out of sight.
I, for one, don't care what they look like. In fact, they are an awesome sight to see. The advantages far outweigh a mere "cosmetic" consideration.
Advantages of Wind Power
Electricity generated by fossil fuels has always been “cheaper.” While wind generated power was becoming more efficient, it still could not compete with the lower cost of using fossil fuels.
However, thanks to the oil crisis of the 70s, there was renewed interest in wind power in Europe as well as the United States. Wind farms began being constructed and as tax laws changed in the U.S. A large number of wind turbines went up.
By 1990, due to poor design, high maintenance costs, and new tax laws wind power economics weren’t adding up, so wind farm construction lost interest. Research into offshore wind farms has proven successful at solving some of the problems with wind turbines on land.
Wind power is still one of the best alternatives to fossil fuels. It is a renewable resource and does not create air pollution and does not utilize any fuel. As more countries take steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to reverse the effects of
, wind generated power will play a bigger role in energy production. With the rise in the price of oil and gas and the drop in the cost per kilowatt hour of wind generated electricity, it could soon be cheaper to build a wind farm than a power station.
Alternative Energy Sources
Commonly referred to as green energy, or clean energy, alternative energy sources do not harm the environment or us.
Solar Energy Is the Best Alternative
The sun radiates huge amounts of energy and only a small fraction actually makes it to earth. Even so, the sun alone provides enough energy to support our planet.
Hydro Energy to Power Our World
Can Hydro energy, or hydroelectricity, help us kick our addiction to oil?
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