You might have heard about wind energy many times. However, do you know how is it created? Indeed, wind energy is a form of solar energy as wind is caused by uneven heating of the atmosphere. As for flow pattern, wind is influenced by the earth terrain, vegetative cover and bodies of water.
The term Wind Energy describes effectively the process of generating energy using the wind. The kinetic (motion) energy in the wind is transformed by wind turbines into mechanical power. This power can in turn be exploited for tasks like pumping water or grinding grain or be fed into a generator to generate electricity, powering homes, schools and businesses.
The mechanism of wind turbines can be explained as the opposite of a fan. The fan moves to generate wind while the wind turbine lets itself moved by the wind to create kinetic energy. There are two types of wind turbines, the horizontal axis type which looks like the classic windmills and the vertical axis turbine. Most used wind turbines these days are the horizontal axis turbines.
There are a variety of sizes for wind turbines, which makes for different power ratings. A small wind turbine which stands up to 30 feet and spans between 8 to 25 feet in diameter, is enough to supply electricity needed by a fully electronic house or a small business. The largest type of wind turbine spans more than 360 feet and stands up to 20 building stories. This type of wind turbine is able to supply power for 1,400 homes. The sizes of utility-scale turbines range from 50 to 750 kilowatts. Turbines below 50 kilowatts, the single small ones, are used water pumping, telecommunications dishes and independent homes.
One of the advantages of wind energy is the fact that it is free and renewable. You can use the wind as much as you want to and not run out of it. The fact that it creates no pollution makes wind energy a favorable alternative energy. Among other power plants, wind energy plants is the only one which produce neither air pollutants or greenhouse gases.
On the other hand, some people have voiced concerns over birds and bats killed for flying into the turbine’s rotors, as well as the noise which comes from the rotor blades. People also feel that the wind energy turbines impact the visual beauty of an area. These problems, however, have seen solutions through the appropriate choosing of plant sites and the development of technology.
In the past 10 years, cost of wind power has successfully been decreased. The technology however, asks for more preliminary investment if you compare such to generators fueled by fossil based energy sources. The machinery takes the biggest slice of the cost pie, taking up 80% of the total cost while the rest cover site preparation and installation process. When it comes to operating and fuel expenses though, the cost of wind energy is highly favorable compared to any other technology in electricity generating – since the turbines need no fuel and operating expenses are hardly significant.
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