The wind is one of the cleanest sources of energy, and because it is a naturally generated resource, it is also the most abundant energy source on the planet today. Wind power is energy that is created through the conversion of wind into forms that are more practically useful, such as electricity. Wind energy is currently supplying as much as 1% of the world’s electricity use, however the power of wind energy could potentially supply as much as 20% of global electricity.
Wind energy is created through the use of Wind Turbines, or wind turbine towers. How much energy is produced from one wind turbine depends entirely on how large the turbine is. A large wind turbine will produce several hundred megawatts of electricity which is enough electricity to power several hundred homes. A smaller wind turbine is defined as one that provides 100 kW of electricity or less. These smaller turbines are used for homes or small businesses, or as a resource of backup for electricity. Some people use even smaller turbines to power sailboat batteries or for other uses.
Today, wind turbines come in all forms and sizes, but they all function and are built in a very similar manner. Standard components of a wind turbine include:
- Rotor – the blades with surfaces engineered with aerodynamics in mind. As the wind moves over these blades, the rotor will turn, and the generator in the turbine rotates and produces the electricity
- Gearbox – the gearbox will match the speed of the rotor to the speed of the generator. The smallest wind turbines do not use a gearbox.
- Tailvane – this component will align the wind turbine with the wind direction
- Tower – this component is used on horizontal turbines, and is where the turbine is mounted. Vertical turbines do exist, and these are generally built into the ground.
- Battery Station – the larger wind turbines are connected to a battery station which is the system that operates the turbine. Because a generator is used to run the turbine, battery power is necessary to run the generator. The batteries will be turned on and off with the turbine generator switch.
A wind turbine works in the opposite manner that a fan works. Fans use electricity to make wind, whereas turbines use wind to make energy. As wind moves over the aerodynamically engineered rotator blades, a shaft inside of the turbine is spun. This shaft is connected to the generator, which, in turn creates the mechanical energy that we use today.
The height of the tower does play a role in how much wind energy will be produced. The speed of wind will increase with height, and so any increases in the height of a turbine tower will mean larger increases in the amounts of electricity that is generated by the turbine.
Wind energy is the most easily accessed form of energy today, and it is also the cleanest which makes it an affordable and the most feasible option towards making our earth a greener place.
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