Wind Power as a Reliable Source of Clean EnergyDownload Audio Version
Wind power is transformed into energy through different technologies, including wind farms, turbines, generators, and others. The goal is to meet the increasing energy demand on a global level by using clean and renewable sources.
Turbines Generate Power
Wind turbines transform kinetic into mechanical energy. There are different types of devices in use, including windmills and horizontal and vertical axis machines. The blades of horizontal axis turbines rotate around an axis that is parallel to the ground. Vertical axis machines are less common, with an axis that is perpendicular. The turbine is made of several components, including a rotor, nacelle, and gearbox. These devices produce electricity from mechanical energy, and the role of the gearbox is to increase the speed of rotation.
The design of the blade is symmetrical to the plane of the chord and is orthogonal. The amount of energy produced varies depending on the angle of attack and the rotating speed. New technologies are also developed whereby cattail-like stalks replace the blades.
Wind farms are essentially areas in which turbines generate power. Thus, multiple machines are concentrated in a single location. The goal is to generate a large volume of electricity. Even big companies such as Google invest in wind power to go green. Google, for example, has invested a total of $38.8 millions to build farms in North Dakota. The farms have a capacity to supply electric power to about 55,000 households in the United States.
Converting to Renewable Sources
Many people wonder if wind power can be used instead of other sources of electricity. A Danish island in the North Sea uses nothing but wind turbines to generate electricity. The top ten countries than invest in this type of technology are the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, China, and the United States. China is the largest producer is the world, with a capacity of more than 62,700 megawatts. The country has a great potential because of its long coastline and large territory. More than 80 farms have been built and operate in China. Chinese manufacturers also created the first of its kind magnetic levitation turbine. The U.S. is second to China, with farms and turbines producing about 3 percent of the total energy supply. The volume is equal to the energy generated by 10 nuclear plants. Germany is also among the main producers of clean energy, with a total of more than 29,000 megawatts. The tallest wind turbine operates in Brandenburg. The problem is that Germany faces irregular wind pattern which makes this type of energy more expensive. Spain comes 4th, producing more electricity through wind turbines than from traditional sources such as coal.
Benefits of Using Wind Power
An obvious benefit is that turbines produce clean energy and no pollutants. They take less space than other production technologies. Turbines are very tall. The efficient use of space is very important, especially in countries with a high population density and in agricultural areas. The fact that turbines come in different sizes and designs means that they can be used in many industrial sectors. Remote and isolated regions that are not connected to the grid also benefit from wind power.
Proponents highlight the fact that this is the least expensive form of energy. It is cheaper than solar energy and traditional fossil fuels such as natural gas. The cost of electricity generated by wind farms is 5 cents per kW/h. Given that new technologies are constantly developed, the cost will continue to decline.
The fact that turbines and constructed within a short period of time, coupled with low operational costs, makes this technology a quick and reliable source of energy. And unlike oil, gas, and other non-renewable sources that are imported, wind power is local. There is no need to transport fossil fuels, and it is a known fact that traffic is a major source of air pollution. By building turbines and farms, energy dollars stay in local communities. As an added advantage, this is a reliable source of energy that requires minimal repairs and maintenance. Low maintenance costs translate into low operating expenses. Some experts also claim that turbines produce electric power 99 percent of the time, but this depends on climate conditions.
Wind turbines rely on constant speed which varies from very low to storm force. Thus, the amount of electricity they generate also varies. Another downside is that the turbines are noisy. For some people, these structures are not interesting and appealing. Finally, the production process itself is a source of pollution.
Apart from noise pollution, one problem is bird trapping and death. Rare bird species also get killed by turbines. The good news is that new technologies are developed to lower bird mortality. And in reality, turbines are responsible for 10,000 to 40,000 bird deaths a year, In contrast, automobiles cause between 60 and 80 million deaths. To reduce bird mortality, turbines and farms are built in bird-friendly locations and not in regions with large bird populations. Areas that are known as migratory pathways are not suitable. Wind-powered technologies are also responsible for bat deaths. Proponents argue that waking bats during the day is the cause of more deaths, and the number of bats trapped is negligible. The smart placement of turbines in offshore locations is one solution to the problem of bird mortality.
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