Converting Wind Energy Into Electricity
by Tom Raftery
Wind energy is considered to be a form of solar energy. Wind is caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, combined with the irregular surface of the earth, and by the rotation of the earth. The wind is continuously altered by the earth’s terrain, bodies of water, and vegetation. It is possible to convert the power from the wind into energy to be used as electricity.
The process of converting wind energy to electric energy uses a wind turbine. The wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. The mechanical power can be used for many things. In the past this meant pumping water, creating ventilation, or grinding food sources.
While these things still occur, wind power is also used to generate electricity.
The wind turbine is a tall shaft with several horizontal rectangular blades attached to it. These blades are often covered with stiff material or ratting material. When turned they push against the air, causing pressure, and turning the inner shaft. This shaft connects to a generator which then creates energy.
There are many types of wind turbines, including both vertical and horizontal wind turbines. The initial design of a wind turbine, then known as a wind mill, was vertical. Over the following decades, small adaptations were made before the wind turbine was converted to a horizontal design.
Wind turbines work in a variety of locations, such as in large wind farms, residential wind turbines, and offshore turbines. Wind farms are capable of converting a large amount of kinetic energy that can be converted to electricity. The best location for wind farms is considered to be along valleys where there is a fairly regular flow of wind. At times the wind may be considered to be intermittent, but this can be corrected by supplying a fairly low back-up energy source which will allow for balance in times of low wind.
Between 2005 and 2008, the amount of wind energy collected and used doubled. Over eighty countries are using wind energy commercially, and these statistics are growing.
It is also possible to create wind farms offshore. These are also very profitable and are capable of creating a lot of energy. Uninhibited by buildings, mountains, and other blockages, there is a large amount of wind in coastal areas. However, research suggests that wind turbines placed in a row along the shore create a pull which causes noise nuisance.
Residential wind turbines are capable of generating 50kW of energy a day and are situated to be connected to the local energy network. It is therefore possible to sell back any excess energy generated to the power company. This means that not only is wind energy renewable, it is also capable of being profitable.
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