Wind energy can be referred to as a converted type of solar energy. The sunrays heat up the ground and this causes the atmosphere to become warm. When the hot air goes up, it reduces the earth’s atmospheric pressure and cool air is drawn to take its place. This cool air is called wind. Air contains mass and when it moves, it has energy. Some of this energy can be converted into various types of mechanical force that is applied in various activities.
To convert the wind energy into mechanical energy, a wind turbine is used. The system is effective in turning the kinetic energy found in the wind into electrical energy or mechanical energy. The mechanical energy is usually applied in pumping water especially in remote locations but it is also applied in other activities. The turbines also help to generate electricity for businesses and homes.
How It Works?
The wind turbines come in two main types including the horizontal axis and vertical axis. The horizontal-axis is the most common ones and they are used to produce a significant amount of electric power. These systems contain various components including blades used to convert the wind energy into shaft energy, generator, gearbox, tower, drive train, electrical cables, controls, interconnection and ground support equipment. The wind turbines come in a variety of sizes and steel is used to make the towers. The blades on the systems are made of wood-epoxy or polyester that is reinforced using fiberglass.
Where Does Wind Energy Come From?
The ability of a wind turbine to create electricity can be measured in terms of watts. The consumption and production of electricity is usually measured in terms of kilowatts. The output of the system usually depends on the size of the system and the wind speed. Most of the systems in the market produce about between 250 watts and 5 megawatts.
Winds are usually stronger in high grounds and this is one of the reasons why the wind turbines measure 30 meters in height. This allows the rotor to capture more energy from the wind. The system usually has a feature that switches the rotor on to make if face the direction of the wind. A single turbine can be used to create adequate energy for a home. This energy can also be used to power mills or pump water. If there is excess energy from the system, it can be kept in batteries.
When several wind turbines are found in one location, this is usually referred to as a wind farm. The systems are usually located in areas that are always windy. The electrical energy that is generated from a wind farm can be sold to various electricity companies to provide electricity for those who live in towns and cities.
The systems used to capture wind energy are advantageous because unlike other methods of producing energy, they do not produce pollutants. The wind energy that is produced is also renewable and this means that as long as there is some wind, it is possible to create energy.
When wind energy is used, it means that countries do not have to rely on fossil fuels to produce electricity. These fuels are a disadvantage because they pollute the environment and this adds the amount of green house gases that are found in the atmosphere. The presence of green house gases has been linked to global warming.
The cost of producing wind energy has decreased drastically over the years but the initial investment is still higher than what is required for fossil fuel generated energy. The advantage of wind energy is that in the long term, the costs are reduced because you do not require purchasing fossil fuels. The operating costs are also minimal compared to fossil fuel energy.
One of the main challenges that are facing wind energy is the fact that it is irregular. There is no guarantee that the wind will blow in the wind farms and this makes it unreliable. It is not possible to store the wind the way fossil fuels are stored and it is not possible to harness all winds to meet electricity demands. This can be a big problem because most of the areas that rely on wind energy as a source of electricity are usually in remote locations therefore it is difficult to get any other source of electricity.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Wind Energy
To harness wind energy, large areas have to be set aside and this creates competition for land resources. This is one of the reasons why the use of wind energy has not been widespread but this should not be a problem because land used for farming can also serve as a wind farm.
Wind energy is definitely a better alternative to the use of fossil fuels because it is clean, safe and the operating costs are minimal. There is a move towards environmentally friendly sources of energy and this type of energy is a suitable option.