- Wind energy is the energy generated from winds caused by the irregularities of the earth’s surface, uneven heating of the atmosphere, and rotation of the earth.
- Wind turbines are responsible for turning the moving air to power an electric generator that can supply electric current.
- Though wind energy is a clean energy source, it has an expensive setup, noise pollution, and transportation issues.
We all know that energy can be captured from any fluids. Did you know that air is also fluid with its particles in the form of gas instead of liquid?
It does sound crazy to imagine air as fluid and understand the concept of capturing kinetic energy from the wind. Electrical energy can also be generated through wind energy. With the help of turbine blades in a wind-electric turbine, you can capture the kinetic energy in the wind.
Wind turbines contributed to 9.2% of electricity generation in the USA in 2021. Clean energy from wind is definitively the topic all should know of. So, here we will provide you with information on what wind energy is and how it works.
Table of Contents
What is Wind Energy?
Winds are caused by the irregularities of the earth’s surface, uneven heating of the atmosphere, and rotation of the earth. One of the most sustainable and cleanest ways of creating electricity is by harnessing the wind. There are mainly three types of wind energy:
- Utility-scale Wind: Wind turbines, where the electricity is delivered to a power grid and distributed to the end-user by power system operators or electric utilities. It ranges from 100 kilowatts to several megawatts in size.
- Distributes or “Small” Wind: Single wind turbines that can directly power a home, small business, or farm and are not connected to the grid. It can range anywhere below 100 kilowatts in size.
- Offshore wind: Offshore wind turbines are different and larger than land-based turbines. It is erected in large bodies of water and can generate more power. The wind flow patterns vary greatly and are modified by water bodies, terrain differences, and vegetation. This motion energy is used for many purposes, such as sailing, flying a kite, and generating electricity.
How Do Wind Turbines Work?
As the turbine blades start moving with the help of wind energy, they spin a shaft that leads from the rotor’s hub up to a generator. This generator is responsible for turning rotational energy into electricity. Altogether, generating electricity from the wind is possible by transferring energy from one medium to another.
What is a Wind farm and Wind Turbines?
Generally, wind turbines built close together are referred to as wind farms or wind projects. A wind farm operates as a single power plant and generates electricity for the grid. Once the wind energy is transferred to the primary power grid, you can send the electricity wherever you need it.
Wind turbines are responsible for turning the moving air to power an electric generator that can supply electric current. A wind turbine is just the opposite of a fan. Instead of utilizing electricity to serve you wind, a wind turbine utilizes wind to generate electricity.
Types of Wind Turbines
- Horizontal-axis Turbines
- Vertical-axis Turbines
Windmills vs. Wind Turbines
Most people switch between the terms “wind turbine” and “windmill” quite often. But they have some crucial differences as well. Windmills have been used for centuries to pump water, grind grain, and do other similar works.
Windmills can generate mechanical energy, but not electricity. In contrast, modern wind turbines are evolved with more than 8,000 machinery parts that can harness kinetic energy from the wind and convert it into electricity.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind-Generated Electricity
In the last ten years, the cost of wind power has decreased drastically. But this technology still requires a higher initial investment compared to fossil-fueled generators. Roughly 80% of the investment goes to the machinery, with the balance of site preparation and installation.
When we compare wind generating systems to fossil-fueled systems on a “life-cycle” cost basis, wind costs are more competitive with other technologies because you do not have any fuel to purchase and minimal operating expenses.
Overall, wind power plants have a minimal environmental impact, but there are concerns over the noise induced by the rotor blades and birds and bats flying into the rotors. Most of these problems have been reduced by properly siting wind plants or technological development.
A renewable, Non-polluting Resource
Wind energy is an unlimited, renewable and accessible resource. You can use it as much as you need without worrying about the future supply. Wind energy can provide you with clean, non-polluting electricity. Unlike conventional power plants, wind plants do not emit air pollutants or greenhouse gases.
Supply and Transport Issues
The major challenge while using wind as a power source is that it may not always blow when you need electricity. All winds cannot be harnessed according to the timing of electricity demands.
Even though wind cannot be stored, you can store the electricity it generates with the help of batteries. Some good wind sites are located in remote areas far from places where the demand for electric power is high such as cities.
Finally, wind resource development may compete with other such projects for the land, and these alternatives may have a higher value than electricity generation. However, the turbines can also be placed on land for grazing or farming. Instead of utilizing electricity to serve you wind, a wind turbine utilizes wind to generate electricity.
(Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Sadrish Dabadi)