Basics of Wind Energy
As population increases, so does the demand for energy.
At present, the US relies mostly on coal and natural gas for fueling electricity needs. However, these resources are becoming scarce, and eventually, alternative power sources must be used.
The energy grids that are currently supplying the US with electricity are also getting worn out due to continuous use for years now, and need constant maintenance and repairs.
Investors have tapped into a new energy source – wind – and are spending on wind energy production as an alternative power source. And why not? Wind is ever present, and will be around as long as earth lives.
At present, wind energy production is increasing annually at the rate of 30 percent or higher. And as long as wind is present, the energy business will continue to boom.
Wind Energy as a Power Source
Air or wind flows on earth, and it is high time to use it as the main source of energy.
Wind energy is created with the help of wind turbines that harness wind and turns it into kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is then converted to electricity.
Currently, wind energy has been classified into three types:
This type of energy is created from small wind turbines and usually generate about 100 kilowatts of power. It is sufficient to power a home or farm. It can also power a small business.
Big turbines produce this type of energy. It is able to produce a minimum capacity of 700 watts to as much as 1.8 megawatts. They are usually grouped to produce this much power.
Utility-scale wind is connected to a power supply grid that distributes electricity to houses, businesses, and industries.
It is called ‘offshore’ because the wind turbines are built in bodies of water or in continental shelves.
Turbines that power this type are far larger than the land-based ones, and could produce more energy.
How Energy is Captured and Used
A turbine is a machine that converts wind into energy. It has blade or vane attachments which capture the wind’s kinetic energy. The collected kinetic energy then goes into a shaft attached to a gearbox. The gearbox then rotates and starts the generator.
This combination of parts are encased in a nacelle that sits on top of a 262 feet high steel post.
A gauge that measures wind speed is able to determine the direction where the strongest wind comes from, and the blades rotate to face it.
The machine also has a sensor that measures the strength of winds, and shuts down the blades if the wind speed reaches 55 miles an hour. A six to nine miles an hour wind speed, on the other hand, is already able to generate electricity. The stronger the wind, the higher the electricity production.
All wind turbines are interconnected, and the collected energy from these turbines go through distribution lines, then to transmission lines that lead to the main power grid before reaching consumers.