Introduction to Wind Energy

As fossil energy supplies dwindle, the development of alternative energy sources has become a necessity. Simultaneously, global energy demand is increasingly rising, placing the planet on the brink of a global energy crisis. Furthermore, the widespread use of traditional energy sources pollutes the atmosphere and leads to global warming. Wind and other renewable energy sources, on the other hand, are feasible and clean alternatives to fossil fuels. Wind is one of the most cost-effective and efficient renewable energy sources because of its low operating costs and broad availability. One of the fastest-growing clean energy technologies is wind power. Globally, consumption is growing, partially due to lower prices.

According to IRENA's latest statistics, global installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore has increased by nearly 75 times in the last two decades, from 7.5 gigawatts (GW) in 1997 to 564 GW in 2018. Wind energy production more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, accounting for 16 per cent of all renewable energy generation in 2016. Wind speeds are high in many parts of the world, but the best locations for producing wind power are often remote. Offshore wind power has a lot of promise.

What is wind energy?

Wind power is a type of energy conversion in which turbines transform wind kinetic energy into mechanical or electrical energy that may be utilized as commercial wind turbines generate electricity by harnessing rotational energy to power a generator. They are composed of a blade or rotor and an enclosure known as a nacelle, which houses a drive train atop a tall tower. The biggest turbines can generate 4.8–9.5 megawatts of electricity, with rotor diameters that can exceed 162 meters (531 feet), and are mounted to towers that may reach 240 meters (787 feet).

Wind energy is the most established and mature renewable energy source. It creates electricity by using the kinetic energy created by the influence of air currents. It is a clean and renewable energy source that decreases greenhouse gas emissions and protects the environment. 

Wind turbines

Wind power has been utilized since antiquity to propel sail-powered vessels or to power mill gear that moves mill blades. Wind turbines have been used to generate electricity since the early twentieth century. The wind propels a propeller, which turns the rotor of a generator, which generates power, via a mechanical system. Wind turbines are frequently clustered together in wind farms to maximize energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The machines have a twenty-year lifetime.

Wind energy, also known as wind power, is generated by employing a wind turbine, which is a device that harnesses the strength of the wind to generate electricity. The wind blows the turbine's blades, which are linked to a rotor that further rotates a generator. Wind turbines are classified into two types: horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) and vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) (VAWTs). The most prevalent form of the wind turbine is the HAWT. They often feature two or three long, thin blades, similar to an airplane propeller. The blades are oriented to face straight towards the wind. VAWTs feature shorter, broader curved blades that resemble electric mixer beaters.

Individual wind turbines may generate 100 kilowatts of power, which is enough to power a house. Small wind turbines are also employed in locations such as water pumping facilities. Wind turbines that are slightly bigger perch on towers that can reach 80 meters (260 feet) in height and have rotor blades that can reach 40 meters (130 feet) in length.  Wind turbines with rotor blades that are more than 162 meters (531 feet) long can be seen sitting on towers that rise 240 meters (787 feet) tall. 

Uses of wind energy

Some of the uses of wind energy are mentioned below.

  • generating electricity.

  • milling grain.

  • pumping water.

  • powering cargo ships (via kites)

  • reducing carbon footprint.

  • sailing.

  • windsurfing.

  • land surfing.

Once created, power can be utilized, linked to the electrical grid, or stored for later use.

Working principle of a turbine

Wind turbines operate on a simple principle: rather than using energy to create wind (like a fan does), wind turbines utilize the wind to create power. Wind moves a turbine's propeller-like blades around a rotor, which spins a generator, which generates energy.

The wind is a type of solar energy created by three simultaneous events:

  • The sun heats the atmosphere unevenly.

  • Surface irregularities of the Earth

  • The earth's rotation.

The words "wind energy" and "wind power" both refer to the act of harnessing wind energy to create mechanical power or electricity. This mechanical power can be employed for specific activities (such as grinding grain or pumping water), or it can be converted into energy via a generator.

Small wind turbines are commonly employed in scattered applications. Single tiny wind turbines with a capacity of fewer than 100 kilowatts are primarily utilized for residential, agricultural, and small commercial and industrial uses.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is a Wind Turbine?

Wind energy is converted into electricity by a wind turbine, which can then be used to power electrical devices, stored in batteries, or distributed over power lines.

2. What is the Mechanism of a Windmill?

Windmills transform wind energy directly into mechanical energy for activities like milling grain—the term's origin—or pumping water, which is what most windmills on farms are used for. A windmill's spinning vanes turn a camshaft, which is connected to the work machinery through gears and rods. The job receives all of the force.

3. What is the Difference Between Wind Turbine and Windmill?

A wind turbine is not the same as a windmill or a wind generator. Windmills and wind pumps have existed for centuries. Windmills have been used to grind grain, and wind pumps have been used to pump water from the ground and drain it to make room for new growth. Wind turbines produce electricity in the same way as hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants do, and new wind turbine technology has put them in a class of their own. Aside from a few mechanical features, the only thing they have in common is that they're all driven by wind.

4. What is the cause of wind energy?

Wind is created by the sun's uneven heating of the earth's surface. Because the earth's surface is made up of various types of land and water, the sun's heat is absorbed at varying rates. The daily wind cycle is one example of this inconsistent warmth. Wind energy is now mostly utilized to create power. Windmills that pump water were historically common across the different nations, and some are still in use on farms and ranches, mostly to give water to cattle. Wind energy is an optimum replacement for hazardous fossil fuels.