Wind energy is renewable energy present in flowing air as kinetic energy. Wind energy is used to generate mechanical energy and subsequently electrical energy for further utilization. Solar energy is source for almost all forms of renewable energy. Uneven heating of atmosphere by sun, ground surface irregularities and earth rotation produce winds. At EngineersBay we are going to publish series of articles on wind energy, this is first article from our wind energy series.
Why Wind Energy?
The question arises, why we need to utilize wind energy for generation of electricity. The problem in conventional forms of electricity generation is that it is mainly dependent on fossil fuels. Also generation of electricity using conventional methods is casing resource depletion, environmental deterioration and climate changes. It is time to shift our priorities and develop sustainable methods of producing electricity. Production of electricity using wind energy is sustainable as wind resource is unlimited, renewable and environment friendly. It provides security of energy supply, reduces environmental concerns and help protecting the global and local climate.
Wind turbines converts wind energy into electricity. It is a combination turbine, gearbox, generators, rotor, blades, and structural support system. Wind turbines are mainly categorized as vertical axis turbines and horizontal axis turbines.
Typically, a wind turbine has following components. depending on the type of wind turbine, arrangent and configuration of these components will be different.
- Rotor and blades
- Supporting system (tower & foundation)
A wind farm consist of multiple wind turbine at single location. normally a group of turbines, substation, control room etc are installed in a wind form. World largest wind farm is located in China with maximum capacity of more than 6000 MW.
Locations for wind farm
A potential site for wind farm should be a location with nearly constant and non-turbulent wind throughout the year, with a minimum likelihood of sudden powerful bursts of wind. To operate within economical factors, a wind turbine require 16 km/h (10 mph) or greater wind speed. To select a wind farm site, wind resource assessment for the area is carried out. Wind profiles are developed to determine the potential of sites and then selected on basis of the most stable wind profiles.
- Wind energy in considered to be environment friendly and categorized as Green energy. During the process of electricity production, no green house gas is emitted in atmosphere. further it helps in saving fossil fuels and reduces pollution due to lesser consumption of fossil fuels.
- Production of electricity through wind turbines is a sustainable process. Once turbines are installed cost of fuel shall be zero.
- Wind is the fuel for wind power and practically there is unlimited fuel supply for power generation. As long as the sun will sine on earth, wind shall continue to blow due to difference in temperature of atmosphere caused by sunlight.
- Once installed, operating and maintenance of wind turbines is less costly. one of the major factor of its lesser operational cost is freely available energy in form of blowing wind.
- A major disadvantage of producing electricity using wind energy is that output is not constant. Due to variation in wind speed at different times, production varies from zero to the maximum possible output. This make wind power to be used as alternate option instead of primary source of energy (exceptions are there, Denmark is going to be 100% dependent of wind power) .
- Another drawback with installation of wind turbines is that turbines produced a lot of noise pollution. To avoid this wind farms are recommended to be installed at remote location from population.
- Although operational cost of wind turbines is lesser as compared with conventional methods of electricity production, but it has relatively higher installation cost.
- Wind turbines are a potential threat to wild life, specially birds. on many occasions, birds had been killed by striking with the blades of turbines.