One of the earliest renewable resources to gain widespread use is wind energy. Total global wind power capacity is now up to 837 GW.
Wind energy economics are similar to fossil-fuel technologies in wet and windy parts of the world, and they are improving as fossil-fuel costs rise and an economic value is attributed to the environment.
Wind technology is improving and has demonstrated its ability to use this resource economically. Wind energy will likely play a significant role in the future energy mix of the world.
After hydro power, wind power is the second-largest renewable resource and one of the fastest-growing energy sources. The supporting infrastructure is quick to build, scalable, and has a low carbon effect throughout the project’s life cycle, which are all important advantages of wind as a power source.
Wind power capacity has increased fast, from 6.1 GW in 1996 to 591.5 GW in 2018, when both onshore and offshore projects are considered. In 2007, wind power generated 1% of worldwide electricity, with onshore wind turbines accounting for nearly all of it.
The capacity of wind power around the world is not evenly distributed. Asia has the largest capacity, accounting for 43.2 percent of global capacity, followed by Europe (32.1 percent), and North America (32.1 percent) (18.5 percent). 93.8 percent of the worldwide wind energy market is concentrated in these three regions.
When looking at the distribution pattern by country, it’s worth noting that only ten countries account for 84 percent of total global wind power. China is by far the largest provider, accounting for 35% of global wind power, followed by Germany, India, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Canada, and Italy.
Although total wind capacity may appear small compared to total energy demand, as related prices decrease, more countries are likely to invest in wind. Wind turbine efficiency, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance processes have all improved, resulting in cost reductions. The Levelized Cost of Energy of wind power has dropped dramatically during the previous 30 years.
By 2050, wind energy is expected to meet between 20% and 25% of total world energy consumption. The predicted increase in wind power should be supported by government subsidies and rapid breakthroughs in wind turbine technology.
Development of Wind Power
With current technology, wind speeds of greater than 5 m/s are required to profitably capture wind power. Unfortunately, places with very powerful wind resources are typically associated with low human density and, as a result, low energy consumption.
Wind turbines can provide electricity to some African locations, but the infrastructure needed to deliver them is limited. To meet the continent’s electrical needs, more wind turbines are required.
The biggest technical challenges with using wind as an energy source are the low density of the air that transports wind energy and the unpredictable nature of wind at any given site. The wind turbine must be shut down if the wind becomes too strong, otherwise, it will be damaged.
Wind energy contributes 1% of total world electricity output. Between 2004 and 2007, global wind power increased from 59 to 95 gigawatts. Germany had the most installed wind capacity at the time (16.6 gigawatts).
Wind farms are most cost-effective in areas where high winds occur frequently. These sites aren’t always in close proximity to densely inhabited areas. This electricity must be transported via power lines and other electrical distribution system components. Because wind is a variable and unpredictable power source, power storage may be necessary.
Public interest groups have highlighted concerns about the potential impact of wind farms on wildlife and overall aesthetics. For example, the Cape Wind Project off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the first planned offshore wind farm in the United States, was opposed for nine years before being approved by locals concerned about the ecology.
Wind turbines have been accused of injuring or killing birds. Experts have concluded that modern turbines have just a minor impact on bird populations. The National Audubon Society is a strong supporter of wind energy when properly cited. Wind farms are purposefully positioned to minimize the impact on migrating bird populations and important wildlife areas.
Wind Energy Machines
There are two types of wind energy devices: horizontal-axis and vertical-axis. Three or more blades are installed on a horizontal shaft in horizontal-axis machines.
The shaft spins inside a container installed on a swivel base atop a tall tower. The blades are positioned to face the wind when in operation. An electric generator in the housing converts shaft rotation into electricity.
The size of these instruments is huge. They’re mounted on towers that stand around 275 feet tall, have blades that are about 145 feet long, and weigh about 500 tons of steel.
The trend is for larger machines (7-megawatt machines are already available, with even larger machines in development). The nacelle, which houses the power conversion equipment at the top of the tower, is large enough for a person to move around while performing maintenance.
Wind turbine construction is a complex and time-consuming job. The prefabrication of components, on the other hand, enables speedy setup.
Blades are mounted to a vertical tower in vertical-axis machinery. Savonius and Darrieus are the two types of vertical-axis wind turbines. Airfoils attached to a vertical shaft are used in Darrieus machines.
The rotor of the Savonious machines, which have opposite-facing troughs on opposing sides of the vertical shaft around which they circle, spins around the axis because wind forces transmit more energy to the concave side than to the convex side.
Variations of the Savonious and Darrieus designs have been conceived and are being developed for commercial applications. Darrieus machines may be ideal for use in central station power facilities, sometimes known as wind farms. Savonious machines are typically thought to be only suited for small-scale applications.
The generators on vertical-axis machines are on the ground, giving them an advantage over horizontal-axis machines. Vertical-axis machines, on the other hand, require a location close to the ground, where wind velocity is lowest, which is an advantage over horizontal-axis machines.
Despite the fact that both horizontal and vertical axis machines have considerable popularity, horizontal axis machines have monopolized the commercial market for large-scale manufacturing.
In highly cold climates, wind turbine blades must be protected against ice formation. The use of wind turbines attached to helium balloons is becoming increasingly widespread. Proponents believe that the quicker and more consistent winds at higher altitudes will compensate for the added complexity and cost of a balloon-mounted wind generator.
Wind turbines are available in a wide range of sizes, designs, and power outputs. A three-bladed rotor driving a horizontally oriented generator is the most common wind turbine system architecture today. A wind turbine’s basic components are the rotor, nacelle, tower, and transition piece.
Offshore Wind Power
Offshore wind power has proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve energy sustainability. Offshore wind power is expected to account for a major portion of future wind energy. The development of onshore wind as a means of boosting power generation capacity is known as offshore wind.
While onshore wind power technology is less expensive and easier to install and operate, offshore wind power should be considered a long-term commitment for various reasons.
On the water, the average wind speed is higher and more consistent than on land. Offshore wind turbines will outperform onshore wind turbines in terms of efficiency.
Offshore wind turbines have higher adaptability and scalability than onshore turbines. It can be constructed far from the coast, with minimal impact on human activity. Wind turbines also have less layout restrictions and are easier to transport to different locations throughout the world.
An offshore wind farm is a power plant that includes all of the infrastructure needed to capture wind energy, convert it to electricity, and feed it back into the grid. The wind turbines, cables, and substations are the major components of an offshore wind farm.
The turbines are the most important part. Wind turbines are simply machines that convert wind power into electricity. For economic reasons, such as minimizing planning, construction, and maintenance costs, many wind turbines are installed at the same time in one location.
The turbines create electricity, which is then delivered to an offshore substation through cable connections. Before being sent to shore, the voltage of the electric power is stabilized and optimized there. An onshore substation feeds the offshore electric power into the main power system.
Modern wind turbines capture energy from the wind by rotating a series of propeller-like blades that drive a generator via suitable shafts and gears, mostly for power generation. Although electric power generation has replaced milling as the primary application, the term “windmill” is still used to describe this type of machinery.
From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, windmills and water wheels were widely used. Wind turbines became extinct in the twentieth century as internal combustion engines and electricity became more reliable and, in most cases, less expensive sources of energy. Steam engines and steam turbines soon took their place.
The oil crisis of the mid-1970s increased interest in wind turbines as a source of energy. Concerns about the environment and global warming sparked a growing interest in wind turbines as a potential source of electricity in the following decades.
Wind turbines are assumed to have evolved from windmills, which have been used for millennia for a variety of purposes such as irrigation and grinding. Wind power wasn’t used to generate electricity for the first time until the late 1800s. The price and availability of oil supplies, on the other hand, influenced the rise of wind turbines.
Battery Storage with Wind
Wind does not constantly blow, and when power is needed, the desired wind may not be present. Furthermore, wind power may not be required when the wind is at its peak.
Scientists have developed systems that can store wind energy in batteries and integrate it into the grid. The combination of offshore wind and storage technologies like as batteries will be important to grid stability.
Equinor, the originator of Hywind, was one of the first companies to develop a storage solution called Batwind, with Equinor and Masdar as promoters. Batwind will store energy generated by an offshore wind farm, and electrical power created by Hywind will be transmitted to an onshore substation, where the 1 MW batteries will be located, through cables.
The main difference between this and a traditional offshore wind farm is that the energy generated by the turbines will be transmitted directly onshore, avoiding the need for offshore substations.
Economic and Environmental Issues
Wind energy resources are rapidly expanding, posing new concerns. Wind turbines are frequently located in windy areas with low population densities. As a result, the current electrical power transmission infrastructure must be expanded in order to use this resource.
This can be a big financial investment. The German wind energy program, for example, required roughly 1.1 billion euros in 2015 to develop infrastructure and add energy-producing sites.
As installed wind energy capacity approaches a significant portion of overall grid capacity, wind intermittency may induce system instabilities. There must be strategies in place to cope with this.
Wind turbine farms have an impact on the environment as well. Wind farms can be noisy and unattractive in the landscape. The visual impact of wind turbine farms is possibly the most beautiful and problematic aspect of these structures. Others object to the deterioration of otherwise wonderful views, while some perceive them as installation art of great beauty and symmetry.
Migrating birds may be killed if they collide with the spinning blades, and bats may die from internal injuries produced by enormous pressure fluctuations near the blades.
Pros and Cons of Wind Energy
Because climate change is such a hot topic in today’s world, more countries are investing in alternative and renewable energy sources to meet the world’s growing energy demands.
It is vital to analyze both the benefits and drawbacks of wind energy when considering any energy source as a feasible alternative for addressing our future needs.
Pros of Wind Energy
Wind energy is a renewable energy source, which implies that when it is used, it does not deplete the energy supply. This is not the case for nonrenewable energy sources like oil and natural gas, which are commonly referred to as fossil fuels.
After a wind turbine has been built and installed, there is no need to fuel or replenish it. You simply sit back and watch the wind turbine continuously generate electricity.
Low Operating Cost
Wind energy is much less expensive than coal when you consider the original investment as well as the cost of operations and maintenance over the turbine’s lifetime. Turbines also have low operating costs and require little maintenance once installed.
No Negative Environment Effect
The majority of the globe still uses fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil to generate energy. These energy sources are not only nonrenewable, but they also emit a substantial amount of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Wind energy is a renewable source of electricity, and wind turbines release very few of these gases over their lifetime.
On existing farms or agricultural land, wind turbines can be installed. It takes up very little room and allows farmers to keep working in the field. Wind turbines take up very little space and can provide money to farmers who own wind farms.
Cons of Wind Energy
Unpredictable Energy Source
The biggest disadvantage of wind energy is that it cannot be generated continuously. Energy is created only when the wind blows. Wind speed has an impact on the amount of energy produced by turbines. As a result, wind energy is inappropriate as a baseload energy source, that is, as our major source of electricity generation.
Noise is an issue for some residents who live near wind turbines. The turbine’s generator makes a mechanical hum, and the blades “whoosh” through the air. The good news is that current wind turbines are significantly quieter than previous turbines, and as technology progresses, they will likely become even quieter.
Expensive Setup Cost
Wind turbines are large constructions that can reach hundreds of feet in height and need a large upfront investment. The majority of the costs are incurred during the installation and construction phases, but wind energy provides an endless source of electricity as long as there is wind on the planet.
Threat to Wildlife
Wildlife, particularly birds and other flying species, may be harmed by wind turbines. Although there isn’t a way to prevent it, you should be aware of the potential issues that could occur as a result.
Coastal areas, hilltops, and broad plains are good locations for wind farms. The majority of these suitable settings are remote from cities and towns, in more rural areas, or offshore.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Nobody knows exactly how much electricity a wind turbine produces. Because the energy-producing capability of wind turbines is highly dependent on the type, size, and wind speeds.
When the wind rotates the blades of a wind turbine, electricity is generated. The wind, even a light breeze, causes the blades to spin and generate kinetic energy. The spinning blades cause the shaft in the nacelle to rotate as well, and a generator in the nacelle turns this kinetic energy into electrical energy.
Apart from being a renewable energy source that can be found in an infinite number on the earth, it is also completely free, has a high economic value, and requires no maintenance, making it a viable alternative energy source.
Wind energy can be stored during periods of low demand and released during periods of high demand, ensuring a consistent supply of electricity to millions of users. We can store extra wind energy using electrical batteries, compressed air, hydrogen fuel cells, and pumped storage.
Wind turbines, unlike fossil fuel plants, do not generate greenhouse gases or pollutants while generating electricity, making them one of the cleanest sources of electricity available today. This way, it contributes to environmental balance. However, its infrastructure may have an impact on nearby wildlife.
Wind energy is a type of solar energy created by air movement relative to the Earth’s surface. Wind is created by a difference in air pressure induced by the sun’s energy. It is a form of energy based on motion.
China is the world’s greatest generator of wind power, followed by the United States and Germany.
Any energy that is created from environmentally friendly sources is termed green. Wind, unlike fossil fuels, does not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a result, it is classified as green energy.
Wind power is an important renewable energy source. Wind-harvesting technology is well-established, and further improvements are possible. Because of the predicted future reduction in the supply of fossil fuel and the lack of greenhouse gas output, wind power technology has evolved dramatically over the previous decade.
The cost of wind power has declined dramatically over the previous decade, however, it is presently only economically competitive in a few scenarios. It should soon be competitive.