What Is Wind Power| Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Power | How Does Wind Energy Work? | Wind Energy Examples
What Is Wind Power, Or Wind Energy?
Wind power, or wind energy, is the process of harnessing the wind to generate mechanical energy used to spin electric generators. Wind energy is a popular source of clean, renewable energy with a considerably lower environmental impact than burning fossil fuels.
Wind energy (or wind power) describes the process by which wind is used to generate electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power.
A generator can convert mechanical power into electricity. Mechanical power can also be utilized directly for specific tasks such as pumping water.
Types Of Wind Energy/ Wind Farms
There are currently two forms of wind energy available, depending on the location of the wind turbines:
Onshore wind energy generates electricity by harnessing the wind from land-based wind farms. To do this, we erect wind turbines capable of converting wind energy into usable power and transmitting it to the distribution network.
Onshore wind is a low-cost source of electricity, often cheaper than coal or gas plants. Small onshore wind farms can contribute to the grid’s energy supply or give power to isolated off-grid regions.
Onshore wind farms have a higher aesthetic influence on the landscape than other types of power plants since they require more land and are typically located in rural regions, resulting in “industrialization of the countryside” and habitat degradation.
Offshore wind energy is generated by capturing the force of the wind on the high seas, where it travels at a faster and more constant pace than on land due to the lack of impediments.
To maximize the use of this resource, megastructures are erected on the seabed and equipped with cutting-edge technology.
Offshore wind is more consistent and powerful than land-based wind, and offshore farms have a lower aesthetic impact, but construction and maintenance costs are much greater.
How Does Wind Energy Work?
Wind energy is energy generated by the wind’s force. How? Through the use of a wind turbine, the kinetic energy of air currents is converted to electrical energy.
Energy is extracted primarily through the rotor, which converts kinetic energy to mechanical energy, and through the generator, which converts this mechanical energy to electrical energy.
Wind energy is a sustainable, efficient, mature, and secure energy system that is critical for the energy transition and economic decarbonization.
Uses Of Wind Energy/Power (What Is Wind Energy Used for)
1. Generate Electricity
Wind energy is widely used to produce electricity. A wind turbine is used to harness the wind’s energy during this procedure. When the wind begins to move the turbine’s blades, a generator begins to spin, producing power.
Since the invention of the first electricity-generating turbine, wind power has grown in popularity and efficiency. In 1887, Scottish professor James Blyth constructed the world’s first wind turbine to power the lighting in his vacation house.
Today, technology exists to enable the construction of massive wind farms. Onshore and offshore wind farms, depending on their scale, can power millions of households.
2. Used for Wind Sports
Wind power is often utilized in sports such as sailing, surfing, and running. In fact, a windspeed of 10 m/s can provide the motive force for a moderately sized sailboat.
Wind energy has been used to propel boats and planes since the beginning of time. For example, the Wright Brothers invented the airplane that relied on the wind to push it forward.
3. Produce Fuel
Windmills were invented in China around 600 B.C. and again in Europe near 950 A.D. They were used to grind salt. Today windmills are mostly used for power generation, pumping water, and grinding grain.
4. Pump Water
You may be surprised to learn that wind energy may also be used to pump water through a wind pump. Wind pumps resemble classic windmills in appearance, but instead of milling grain, they can pump water.
Historically, these buildings were used to drain the land. As with windmills used in agriculture, wind pumps have been mostly superseded by electric motors.
5. For Transportation
It is also used for transportation. Horizontal-axis wind turbines can power ships for up to many hours. Traditional propellers are more efficient but need to be continuously supplied with lubricating grease.
Wind power could provide a quieter motor, which would make it suitable for use as an alternative mode of transportation.
The Japanese have been using small wind turbines on airplanes since the 1940s to provide the electrical energy which can be used to recharge electronic devices on board, such as Global Positioning System receivers and cameras.
6. Reducing carbon footprint.
In 2003, the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium established a collaborative research program to advance the use of wind power for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide.
The project resulted in developing an innovative gasification technology that increases the efficiency of carbon dioxide capture and utilization by using a low-temperature process to convert carbon dioxide into syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
7. Used as Home Power Generation Hub
Many people have started using small wind turbines to provide electrical energy for their homes and offices.
The energy can be used to charge batteries, which can then be used to supply electrical energy when the wind is not blowing.
These home power generation hubs are especially useful in places that do not have access to traditional electricity grids.
Types Of Wind Turbines Technology
Wind turbines can operate independently or in conjunction with solar panels or the electricity grid. Wind turbines can have a horizontal or vertical axis.
Horizontal-axis wind turbines
Horizontal-axis wind turbines are the most common form. They are frequently equipped with three huge, thin blades. Certain units have only two blades. They resemble an airplane propeller in appearance.
These turbines have the main rotor shaft and generator mounted high tower and must be oriented into the wind. Smaller turbines are normally guided by a simple wind vane, whereas larger turbines are generally guided by a wind sensor and a yaw mechanism.
Most have a gearbox that converts the blades’ slow rotation into a faster rotation appropriate for driving an electrical generator.
Certain turbines employ a particular type of generator that is better suited to lower rotating speeds. These do not require a gearbox and are referred to as direct-drive, as they connect the rotor directly to the generator, eliminating the need for a gearbox.
While permanent magnet direct-drive generators are more expensive due to the rare earth materials used, they are sometimes preferred over gearbox generators because they eliminate the gear-speed increaser, which is susceptible to significant accumulated fatigue torque loading, associated reliability issues, and maintenance costs.
The building of this sort of turbine requires a substantial tower to hold the weight of the blades, gearbox, and generator and use a large crane to hoist the components to the tower’s top.
Typically, they are a more recent technology than their horizontal-axis counterparts. Their blades are more slender and broader. They are not shaped like airplane propellers; rather, they resemble electric mixer beaters.
One advantage of this configuration is that the turbine does not need to be oriented directly into the wind to be functional, which is advantageous on a site with highly changeable wind direction.
Additionally, when the turbine is integrated into a building, this is an advantage because the turbine is intrinsically less steerable.
Vertical turbine designs are significantly less efficient than conventional horizontal turbine designs.
Current Biggest Wind Energy Examples
Oftentimes, wind energy is generated on wind farms. Some wind farms are located onshore, and the land is frequently used for other purposes, such as grazing animals. Some are located offshore, which implies they are located above water.
- Muppandal Wind Park is India’s largest onshore wind farm. This wind farm, developed by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Entity, a government agency, generates 1,500 megawatts (MW).
- India’s second-largest onshore wind farm is located in Jaisalmer. It is comprised of a network of interconnected facilities located in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Since 2012, the facility has generated 1,064 megawatts of power.
- Walney Extension is the largest offshore wind farm in the world. It is located off the coast of Cumbria, England, in the Irish Sea. It is capable of generating 659 MW of electricity. It generates enough power to power 600,000 homes.
- The Kenyan government has connected the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWPP) to the country’s national power grid. It is a wind farm with 365 turbines sandwiched between two mountain ranges. Each turbine generates 850 kilowatts (kW). This region’s strong, consistent winds and predictable weather make it an ideal location for wind energy generation.
- China is currently constructing the Gansu Wind Farm. The enormous onshore wind farm is being built in the Jiuquan desert. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020. This facility is expected to have a capacity of 20 gigawatts.
- The world’s first wind farm is located in New Hampshire. It is located on Crotched Mountain in the state. The facility was developed by a business called U.S. Windpower and featured 200 wind turbines with a combined producing capacity of 600 kW.
- The Mojave Wind Farm, also known as the Alta Wind Energy Center, is the second-largest onshore wind energy facility globally. It currently has 600 turbines, and substantial expansion is planned. It now has a capacity of 1,550 MW but is planned to reach 3,000 MW eventually. The location, strategically placed in California’s Tehachapi Pass between the San Joaquin and Mojave Deserts, is notoriously windy.
Is Wind Energy Renewable or Nonrenewable?
Renewable options for generating electricity, natural gas, and fuels include wind power, solar power, hydroelectric power, and geothermal power. Wind energy has been generally considered a renewable energy source.
In terms of the sustainability of these energy sources, there are differences in the efficiency and infrastructure required and the economic costs of use.
Whether renewable energy is a more sustainable option than fossil fuels may depend on what type of renewable energy is being considered.
The renewable energy sources that produce electricity, natural gas, and fuels can produce sustainable options in certain circumstances.
Wind power, for example, is a renewable energy resource that has growing acceptance because of its ability to be shifted to areas of higher demand.
What qualifies wind as a renewable energy source?
The wind is renewable due to its infinite supply. The same holds for solar energy – the sun will always shine, and there will always be wind; the amount of wind will vary according to the day.
Wind energy generated by wind farms does not contribute to global warming by emitting nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, or sulfur dioxide, smog, or acid rain, as many other sources of traditional fuel do.
A renewable energy source is one that is derived from natural resources that are replenished daily – or almost daily.
Renewable energy sources include solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric action. More emphasis should be placed on such energy sources as the norm, as they are far more manageable and never depleted.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Power/Energy (Wind Power Pros & Cons)
Pros / Advantages of Wind Power/Energy
1. Wind energy is economically viable.
Wind energy generated on land is one of the cheapest forms of energy accessible today, costing between 1 and 2 cents per kilowatt-hour after the production tax credit.
Because wind energy’s power is supplied at a fixed price for an extended period of time (e.g., 20+ years), and its fuel is free. Wind energy mitigates the price unpredictability associated with traditional energy sources.
2. It’s a clean fuel source
When it comes to air emissions, no smokestacks or smokestacks contribute to air pollution. Wind energy does not emit greenhouse gases, nor does it contribute to acid rain.
Only wind farms’ electricity lines will be visible in pristine areas and will be constructed with great care to preserve the environment.
3. Wind energy is both inexhaustible and sustainable
Wind power has been estimated to be 10 percent of the world’s total power generation by 2100 while making up about one-third of primary energy demand in 2050.
4. Wind energy is reliable
Wind energy does not run out of fuel because the wind blows all the time. The only gas left over is that which gets burnt by the turbines when they are not spinning, and some dust and sulfur dioxide from fossil fuels are used to extract and process the oil.
5. Wind energy can be deployed worldwide
The wind is a clean and inexhaustible source of power, with sites readily available across the world.
6. Wind energy can be used to store energy
Wind turbines can be outfitted with supercapacitor technology, which allows them to capture power from the wind, rapidly discharge it into the grid, and store it for later use.
7. Wind investment returns are predictable and consistent
In 2011, The World Bank estimated that the annual rate of return for a turbine of 1 MW or more ranged from 8% to 17% per year.
8. It promotes energy independence
Wind farms on land are local in scale, reducing the need for long-distance power transmission. This reduces the transmission costs per kilowatt-hour and improves reliability by decreasing the number of affected customers if a major outage does occur.
9. Wind energy technology is continuously improving
While wind power has been around since ancient civilization and has been used to propel sailing ships for centuries, modern wind turbines use even more advanced technology to maximize output from a single turbine.
10. Wind is a domestic source of energy
The United States is the largest producer of wind power globally and has over 91,000 MW of installed capacity, making it a net exporter of energy.
11. Wind energy can produce jobs
The U.S. wind industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the American economy and supports more than 100,000 jobs across all 50 states.
Thousands of jobs are created through wind energy through the building and maintaining of infrastructure.
The government has also given its full backing behind further future developments of offshore and offshore wind farms due to its sustainable and cost-effective reasons.
12. Industrial and Domestic Installation
Renewable energy projects such as installing a wind turbine can be used to create new jobs and boost economic development.
Wind energy is a cheaper power source than other forms of power, such as coal, nuclear, and gas, because it’s free.
14. Wind energy is environmentally friendly
Wind turbines are built on land, not on the sea or in a remote area with no access to another power source.
15. Wind farms have minimal impact on wildlife and the environment
The new wind farms have far less impact than the fossil fuel power plants that they are replacing.
16. Wind power generation is very efficient
Wind energy can be used as an effective and environmentally friendly source of power because it is generated in regions with the highest wind intensity and high altitudes.
17. Wind turbines can be used on a small or large scale
The power that is generated from the wind can be produced on a small or large scale for either individual use or to send electricity into the grid for businesses, homes, factories, etc.
Cons / Disadvantages of Wind Energy
1. Turbines might cause noise and pollution
To be able to harness wind power, turbines must be built on land or on islands where the location is far from populated areas and places where there is no wildlife. The noise of the turbines can disturb residents living close to the wind farm as well as affect wildlife.
2. Fluctuation of Wind and Good wind sites
The wind does not always blow in one constant direction, and it is not always available for energy to be harnessed.
Generally, the strongest winds are found at ground level and in higher areas, but turbines cannot be erected on those sites.
3. Wind Turbines may not generate enough power
The amount of power that a turbine can produce can vary depending on the wind speed and direction that day, so if there is no wind powerful enough to harness it, the turbine will not produce any electricity.
4. Wildlife threat
Birds have been killed when they flew into spinning turbine blades. On the other hand, wind turbines are regarded to pose fewer threats to animals than other man-made structures such as cell phone masts and radio towers.
The majority of issues have been eliminated or significantly reduced due to technological advancements or effective wind farm siting.
5. Wind farms can be expensive to construct.
The cost of installing and maintaining wind farms is quite high, but the financial benefits from the energy produced by the turbines far outweigh the investment.
6. Wind power will only provide a few percent of future energy needs
Turbines are large and bulky, so a substantial amount of space will be required to erect them in many locations.
7. Remoteness of location.
They are installed in some locations where no one lives, so their construction may be very protracted.
8. Wind turbines pose a danger to airplanes
Wind turbines can cause interference with radio signals, GPS satellites and interfere with the navigation of planes. The damage of both the wind turbine and the airplane is significant to the extent that the airfields and airports may not be able to handle them.
However, this does not always occur due to technological advancements in these machines, which minimize their potential hazards.