Wind is a powerful source of energy which, for centuries, has been harnessed for different uses. More and more scientists and researchers consider that wind can be used effectively as a clean renewable energy source. But this can only be done when power within the moving air is harnessed properly.
The Wind Energy Industry has grown rapidly since the 1990’s and is considered to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the power generation industry. Some European countries have installed wind turbines that have now been in operation for almost 20 years now, and this entire operation has been quite successful as well. Using wind turbines to create energy has brought down energy production costs, and is a viable option for the replacement of coal-fired power stations.
According to one study, the UK has the largest potential wind energy resource in the entirety of Europe. Wind is therefore regarded as their most promising future source of renewable energy. Currently, wind turbines in the UK are producing electricity which is delivered to almost 390,000 households, and is reaching around 1 million people. Furthermore, the use of wind energy has reportedly reduced carbon dioxide emissions by almost 1.46 million tones per annum.
How is wind converted into energy? With a wind turbine. The wind turbine is basically a rotating device, like a huge fan, whose blades turn when the wind passes through them. They convert the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy.
When this mechanical energy is used by any type of machinery (such as a pump) then the machine is known as a windmill. If the same mechanical energy is converted to electricity, then the machine which does the conversion is called a wind generator or a wind turbine. It is also sometimes known as a wind energy converter (WEC) or a wind power unit (WPU).
The first use of the wind in machines was actually for grinding grains, as early as 200 B.C, in Persia. It was later introduced into the prosperous Roman Empire in 250 A.D. The year 1900 saw the maximum number of windmills in use in the country of Denmark. Almost 2500 windmills were installed at that time, to provide the much needed mechanical load to pumps. They gave a peak power supply of 30MW.
Why Should Wind Turbines be Used?
Wind turbines can effectively help to create mechanical energy, which can then be used for multiple purposes, such as the generation of power and electricity.
Some of the other uses include the following:
- There is only a one-time installation cost for setting up a wind generator, after which the electricity produced by the wind turbine will be free.
- It is a source of clean and renewable energy which will not generate any greenhouse gases, nor emit pollution or even produce any dangerous waste material.
- Each unit of electricity produced by a wind turbine replaces a similar unit of energy from a conventional power station. Wind turbines have highly successful where they have been commissioned in the UK, preventing the emission of almost 1 3/4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
- Wind is an abundant and reliable source of energy. The UK, possibly being the windiest country in Europe, has abundance of wind energy which is used for making electricity. As do other windy areas such as Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia.
- Wind power contributes significantly to the overall energy production of any country. Denmark is one country which gets almost 20% of its electricity from wind power.
- Wind turbines use an extremely robust technology, which is designed for both local operation as well as for remote operation, and requires only periodic maintenance.