Why Should You Understand Wind Power
Our world is in urgent need of sustainable sources of energy. We started using electricity in the late 19th century and since then the demand for is constantly rising. The world population has increased significantly combined with the electricity demand of each person we have made a challenge for mankind to resolve.
Harnessing the power of the wind could be part of the solution although it isn’t a new concept. In the 1st century, the greeks were to first to record using wind power. Wind power has gone a long way since and currently has a lot to offer. You will soon get to know many of its benefits. So let’s start from the basics.
Wind Power What Is It?
So what do we mean when we say Wind power or wind energy? A simple way to describe it would be the process in wh we convert kinetic energy narrowing to re-harness it for a different purpose. One of such other purposes was grinding wheat, another more common today is the generation of electricity using wind turbines.
Where Does Wind Gain Its Energy?
The wind starts blowing as an outcome of the solar energy of the sun heating the surface in an uneven way. The difference in energy between heated air particles and unheated ones causes them to move. Another factor is the differences in topography since the earth is not a perfect sphere. The earth rotates in space and causes the atmosphere around it to move with it which leads to air currents. The two factors combined to generate the wonder of wind. Since those factors are not going to change we have a sustainable energy source that is here to stay.
How Can We Use Wind Power
There are countless applications of wind power. From sailing a ship to generating electricity, the concept is to creat a movement out of this energy. Most commonly we use turbines to catch the energy and transfer it to movement but like the sailing example, it is not strictly limited to that.
What Are Wind Farms?
Wind farms also called wind power plants are commercial-scale facilities where the wind is harnessed for electricity generation action. It’s are very common way to generate electricity all around the world and could be both on-shore or off-shore. Wind farms are mostly built in non-urban areas since the wind blows stronger there. (For those who are curious why urban areas are less windy here is a great resource). The biggest wind farm in the world is located in Gansu, China close to the Gobi desert consisting of 7000 (!!) wind turbines with an overall generation capacity of 20 Gw. For reference, the Gansu wind farm could power a small country like Iceland Cuba or Uruguay.
Where Is A Good Place For A Wind Farm
There are plenty of good places to build wind farms, and the common to all of them is as expected strong wind throughout the entire year. If you want to get more specific about it most farms are in places with an average wind speed of above 20of/h. Examples for such good locations are on coastlines, on top of hills, and big plains as well as the new trend – in the middle of the st is an upcoming star in the wind power industry. Offshavee wind farms has many benefits, the most significant of which is that about 70% of the planet is covered with water.
One analytics firm covered this topic in a report stating that more than 26.2 GW of offshore floating turbines are planned to be constructed by 2035 all over the world, with leading countries trying to test this technology you could find Japan and Portugal. To see the full report you could follow this link. and if you would like to learn more about offshore wind farms we recommend this video.
The generation of electricity from wind power is not limited to utility-scale facilities. Domestic wind turbines are gaining popularity fast, especially in more rural areas. Having a wind turbine in your home can be a great advantage, both in terms of self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Which Country Is Leading In Wind Power Generation?
Most of the developed countries of the world announced ambitious plans to increase their wind power capacity. The country on top of the chart is China, with an overall capacity of Chinar 340 Gw. Chaityas doubled its wind power capacity in the last six years.
As we mentioned before China also holds the title of the country with the biggest wind farm – Gansu.
In second place and with a big gap is the united states with an overall capacity of 140 Gw.
The Problems With Wind Farms
Wind turbines are a great sustainable source of power, they don’t emit greenhouse gases while producing electricity. Like any great technology, wind power generation has its advantages and disadvantages. The technology itself has some points for improvement as well like the following unresolved problems
Wind Turbines are not recyclable
For every solution to be fully sustainable it should be designed as part of a circular economy. During their lifespan wind turbines sure offer a great alternative to fossil fuels the problem starts when they finish their duty.
The blades of a wind turbine are over 15 meters, mostly made of fiberglass,ss-reinforced polyester is not yet recyclable. Currently, when a wind turbine is out of use it’s disassembled at the site and transferred to a landfill for burial. Many companies are now working to break this barrier by developing recyclable blades that would be durable enough to withstand harsh environmental conditions and yet recyclable.
Recently a group of researchers announced they found a few composites that could later be reused as an ingredient for sweets such as gummy bears. Regardless if that is going to be the exact application of later turbines no doubt about the fact we need to find a solution for the thousands of wind turbines from old composites that are currently working and one day will go out of service.
A Major Hazard For Flying Animals
Wind turbines reach a significant height and their blades rotate at great speed. This leaves birds with no chance to survive the deadly encounter. As we mentioned before most wind farms are located in the countryside where usually wildlife thrives. Animals cannot understand the danger of those rotating blades and accidents in which birds and bats are dying are very frequent
One study published by “The American Bird Conservatory” estimated that deadly encounters kill at least 140 thousand and up to 680 thousand birds yearly in the united states alone. Many scientists and researchers are pursuing a solution for this problem but at the moment there is not any proven applied one.
On top of that, when constructing the infrastructure to support wind turbines we have no way to avoid the change in landscape. We need to remember that this landscape is the habitat of flying and land-living animals.
A solution for that problem may be found in vertical-axis wind turbines. With slower rotation speed and lower hight, this configuration is gaining popularity in recent years.
Disruption Of Electromagnetic Signals
Wind turbines can potentially disrupt electromagnetic signals used for telecommunication, navigation, and radar systems. It is prone to disturb lower frequency transmissions but it also varies from system to system by factors such as rotation speed and blade shape. Not only the blade but the tower and generators themselves could interfere with those transmissions and cause problems to nearby systems.
The Noise Produced As A Side Effect
Some people living close to wind farms complain of the noise produced as a side effect of the rotation. Although it’s not major harm to the quality of life, in some places where you need to get neighbors’ approval for building permits it might be a barrier. The sound is caused when the blades of the turbine encounter turbulence in the air and create broadband noise.
The Windspeed Is Changing Constantly
The wind doesn’t blow at the same intensity throughout the day. For a wind turbine to start working there is a minimum speed requirement, making it impossible for them to be working 24/7. The last results in changing the amount of power generation which makes it more difficult for grid planners and local authorities to plan an effective grid. That can, on the one hand, take all of the output power and on the other hand not be too expensive for the needs. There are some predicting methods and calculators that can give an estimation for certain areas. It’s still hard to formulate the changing behavior of the wind and the approximations are not yet accurate enough.
Currently, the best solution for this problem is the use of big batteries. When producing more energy than the grid’s capacity the excess is stored and later on released to the grid during low output hours.
Wind energy is another great option for sustainable electricity generation. It has a big part in the European plan for 2030 to cut down on air pollution and create local green jobs. Wind energy is not perfect but combined with some of the other solutions we cover it surely has a lot of benefits. We hope you got to know some of them and that next time you hear about wind power you have some fundamental knowledge about the topic.