Wind Power FAQ's
A healthier environment starts with using renewable energy sources. Could there be any better energy source to harness than the wind? It is free and always there - it just takes a little bit of ingenuity to use that wind power and turn it into electricity. More and more wind farms are cropping up and there are more on the drawing board here in the U.S. and abroad. Below are some frequently asked questions to give you the needed information on wind energy.
- What is Wind Energy?
- How is Wind Energy Created?
- How Do Wind Turbines Work?
- How Much CO2 Does a Wind Turbine Prevent From Entering the Atmosphere?
- How Long Ago Was Wind Energy First Harnessed?
- What Role Did the Dutch Play in the Development of the Windmill?
- When Was Wind Energy First Introduced in America?
- What are the Benefits of Offshore Wind Farms?
- What is a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine?
- What is a Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine?
What is Wind Energy?
The technical term "wind energy" or "wind power" refers to the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, wind mills for mechanical power, wind pumps for pumping water or drainage, or sails to propel ships. Return to Top
How is Wind Energy Created?
Wind energy is a converted form of solar energy. The radiation generated from the sun heats different parts of the earth unevenly, particularly during the day and night. Winds are caused by this uneven heating phenomenon, as well as inconsistencies in the topography of the surface of the earth and effect of the earth's rotational pattern. Simplistically, hot air rises, reducing the atmospheric pressure at the earth's surface, and cooler air is drawn in to replace it - and the result is wind. Return to Top
How Do Wind Turbines Work?
Wind turbines convert 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. First, the blades which catch the wind which makes it rotate. The blade is then attached to a shaft which would spin when the blades rotate. The shaft is then connected to a generator which turns the mechanical energy to electrical energy. Return to Top
How Much CO2 Does a Wind Turbine Prevent From Entering the Atmosphere?
A single, strategically placed 750 kW wind turbine can prevent the emission of 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere each year. It would take approximately 500 acres of forest to absorb that much CO2. Return to Top
How Long Ago Was Wind Energy First Harnessed?
Wind energy was the "fuel" for ancient sailing ships on the ocean and propelled watercraft along the Nile river as early as 5000 B.C. By 200 B.C., simplistic windmills were used to pump water in China, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East. Return to Top
What Role Did the Dutch Play in the Development of the Windmill?
The Dutch refined the windmill and adapted it for draining lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta. In Denmark, by the year 1900, there were about 2,500 windmills for mechanical loads such as pumps and mills, producing an estimated combined peak power of about 30 MW. Return to Top
When Was Wind Energy First Introduced in America?
Settlers brought windmills to the New World in the late 19th century. They began using windmills to pump water for farms and ranches, and later, to generate electricity for homes and industry. In the American midwest between 1850 and 1900, an estimated six million small windmills were installed on farms to operate irrigation pumps. Return to Top
What are the Benefits of Offshore Wind Farms?
Wind turbines can be sited offshore, where the wind blows harder and larger turbines can be installed. Offshore, wind speeds tend to be higher and the wind is steadier, thus, capturing more wind energy. Return to Top
What is a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine?
In the vertical axis wind turbine design, the main rotor shaft 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. Return to Top
What is a Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine?
This is the more commonly used design for a wind turbines, where 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. Return to Top