Glossary of Wind Energy Terms
Wind Energy - Also called "wind power," refers to the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity.
Kinetic Energy - The energy of motion that powers wind turbines.
Wind Turbine - Converts the kinetic energy that is contained in the wind into mechanical power, which may either be converted to electricity using a generator, or utilized directly to perform specific tasks.
Vertical Axis Wind Turbine - The main rotor shaft is arranged vertically in its axis. A key aspect of this design is that a servo motor is not required for tracking because it can catch wind from any direction (advantageous if the area is noted for inconsistent wind direction). The primary advantage of this arrangement over the horizontal turbine design is that the turbine does not need to be pointed into the wind to be effective. Another advantage of this design is that the generator is placed on the ground, making maintenance easier. However, this design creates a lot of torque, meaning that it produces less electricity than a similarly sized horizontal axis turbine.
Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine - This the more commonly used design for a wind turbines, is one in which the main rotor shaft and generator are at the top of a tower. Smaller turbines are held by a simple wind vane, but larger turbines use a wind sensor coupled with a servo motor. A horizontal axis turbine must be pointed towards the wind to be effective, because the tower generally creates turbulence behind it.
Wind Sensor - Device on a wind turbine that measures wind speed.
Rotor Shaft - The axis around which the rotor of a wind turbine turns.
Offshore Wind Farm - Wind turbines sited offshore, where the wind blows harder and larger turbines can be installed.
Thanet Offshore Wind Farm - The world's largest wind farm, situated off the southeast coast of England. Thanet Offshore Wind Farm boasts 100 wind turbines capable of supplying enough electricity for 200,000 homes a year.
Cape Wind Farm - America's first offshore wind farm, located on Nantucket Sound. Once built, it will include 130 offshore wind turbines capable of producing enough electricity to provide 75 percent of the electricity necessary to power Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.