Wind Energy: Working, Pros & Cons (2021 Review)
Wind power is one of the rapidly growing renewable energy sectors across the world.
The variation of temperature caused by the sun on the earth’s surface and the rotation of the earth leads to the flow of wind. Mountains, water bodies, and vegetation all affect the wind flow patterns.
Wind turbines are used to convert wind energy into electricity. Wind flow produces kinetic energy that rotates turbine blades and thus, electricity is generated.
Visit the Past
Wind turbines developed more than a century ago. By the 11th century, people within the Middle East were using wind pumps and windmills extensively for food production.
Wind power generation started in the United Kingdom and the United States in the years 1887 and 1888. But, modern wind power is considered to have been first developed in Denmark in 1891.
However, the oil shortages in the 1970s created an interest in developing ways to use renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, solar energy to generate electricity.
By 2014, over 240,000 commercial-sized wind turbines were operating in the world and producing 4% of the world’s electricity.
According to statistics presented by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA), by the end of 2019, the overall capacity of all wind turbines installed worldwide reached 650,8 Gigawatt.
How do wind turbines work?
A wind turbine converts wind energy into electricity. Let’s break it down into steps and understand how it has been converted:
Step 1: When wind flows across the blade, the rotor gets a spin due to the air pressure.
Step 2: The rotor is directly connected to the generator or connected through a shaft and a gearbox.
Step 3: The spin in the rotor will rotate the generator and electricity will be generated.
How much electricity can be generated?
There are three main factors that will affect the amount of energy generated by a turbine from the wind:
- Wind speed
Small changes in the speed of the wind will have a large impact on the amount of power available in the wind.
- Air density
The denser the air, the more energy will be received by the turbine. Air density varies with elevation and temperature.
- Swept area
The larger will be the swept area (the size of the area through which the rotor spins), the more power the turbine can capture from the wind.
Types of Wind Farms
There are two types of wind flows. When the wind blows from the sea towards the land, it is called onshore winds. Contrarily, offshore winds are the wind that blows from the land towards the sea. So, there exist two kinds of a wind farms:
- Onshore Wind Farms: The farms in which there are large installations of wind turbines located on land, called onshore wind farms.
- Offshore Wind Farms: Wind farms in which there are installations located in bodies of water, are called offshore wind farms.
Onshore wind farms have gained more popularity in the world, but there is growing interest in the developed countries to construct offshore wind farms also.
A key difference between onshore and offshore wind farms is the consistency in that they are able to generate energy. Especially, due to higher and more consistent wind speeds, offshore wind farms have the potential to generate more electricity at a steadier rate than their onshore counterparts.
On the other hand, onshore wind farms are more easily accessible than those that are placed in offshore environments. Also, onshore wind farms can be more easily connected directly to local power grids.
Pros of using Wind Energy
- Wind energy isn’t only a clean energy source but also produces no pollution.
- It operates fuel-free, that is, the turbine does not need fuel and also there is no need for an external power source.
- Cost-effectiveness is one of the advantages of wind energy.
- Wind power is also sustainable.
- Occupy less space as compared to other energy resources.
- Wind power systems are highly efficient.
Cons of using Wind Energy
Challenges of adopting wind energy include:
- Wind power plants can impact birds and local wildlife eg. Sometimes, birds are killed due to flying into spinning turbine blades.
- Wind turbines cannot be used in highly populated areas.
- It causes noise pollution up to 100 dB.
- Wind plants can impact local wildlife.
Below Infographic shows a brief introduction of Wind energy:
Is it a good fit for you?
Installing Wind turbines is not suitable for all locations. So, before installing the turbine, you should consider certain parameters.
The wind turbines perform best in coastal areas, on the top of round-shaped mountains, plains, that is the places where the wind is strong and reliable.
The average wind speed of 25km/hr is needed to rotate turbines to generate electricity.
And therefore, wind turbines are installed on heights because there is more wind in higher elevations.
Before setting a wind power generation plant, you must compare the electricity production with other renewable energy sources for that location.
You should install a green energy plant that will generate more electricity at less cost.
Read our previous post on Wind Energy Vs Solar Energy: Which one is Better?
Do let us know, which one is better for you?
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