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Wind Energy- How it is used

Written on July 2, 2008 – 7:33 pm | by Rick

Wind energy is a renewable source of energy. Renewable sources of energy are those which can be reused over and over again unlike fossil fuels such as oil and coal. In other words wind is a sustainable form of energy.

Basically to produce wind power the kinetic energy from wind is converted by a machine known as wind turbines. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy wind produces into mechanical energy or electrical energy, depending on the use. Mechanical energy can only power machinery like pumps and windmills. This is because mechanical energy is still in the form of potential or sometimes kinetic energy.

The real use of converting the kinetic energy from wind is to power the wind turbines, wind generators, wind power unit (WPU) or wind energy converter (WEC). Once these machineries are powered by the sheer force from the kinetic energy of wind, they generate electrical energy, using the same concept as burning fossil fuels.

In a wind turbine the wind energy is converted via a rotor, a three-bladed assembly at the front of the wind turbine. This rotor turns a shaft which in turn moves the nacelle. The slowly rotating shaft in the nacelle then enters a gearbox which drastically increases rotational shaft speed. The output shaft connected to the generator which then converts the rotational energy into electricity. The electricity produced then flows through a transformer increasing the electrical voltage power. This new power then flows underground through lines to a collection point. In most instances the power is transferred to nearby farms and towns where it is utilized as electricity.

There are basically two kinds of wind turbines which are the Vertical-axis and Horizontal-axis wind turbines. Most turbines used today use the horizontal-axis mechanisms. These machines have blades like propellers which span 200 feet across for typical ones. The machine itself stands as tall as a 20-storey building. The purpose of the wide blades and great height is basically to capture more wind. The Vertical axis turbines on the other hand have blades that go from top to bottom where common ones look like two-bladed egg beaters. The approximate height is 100 feet and is around 50 feet wide.

The most common areas where you can find wind mills or wind turbines are those which have flat lands. Wind mills and turbines are mostly built on flat land where there are no physical land obstructions such as hills. These areas also should be, well, windy to generate, well, wind. These wind mills and turbines are built as high as possible to avoid the low air pressure points near the ground and reach the higher pressure areas, where the higher you go, the higher the air pressure thus the more wind.

The earliest uses of wind energy were to sail ships across the ocean. Back then wind energy was also used to power windmills which were in turn to grind wheat and other grains. The most popular place where the utilization of windmills are at its maximum is the Netherlands. They were the ones who further improved the design concept of windmills, thus starting the wind energy evolution.


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