FreeWord – Wind Power
Hi folks. It’s FreeWord time! Today, Wind Power is under the radar.
Wind power is an unlimited renewable source of energy which is born from air currents flowing across the earth’s surface. Wind flow patterns and speeds vary greatly across the globe and are modified by such as bodies of water and differences in terrain. This mechanical force can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain), or it’s converted into electricity via a generator (the more attractive option these days.)
We have been using wind for many purposes throughout history; it has propelled sailboats for more than 5000 years and generating electricity since the first windmills were invented, which was around 1500 years ago. Aside from the first few kilowatt-generating facilities in the 1970s, the wind industry has essentially been built from scratch over the last decade or so. Recent developments and advances in wind turbine technology have set wind power on a steady rise.
Wind turbines come in several sizes, with small-scale models providing electricity to a small number of homes within a community. At industrial scales, large turbines are collected into wind farms, which are often located in rural areas or offshore. Modern commercial wind turbines produce electricity by using rotational energy to drive an electrical generator. Wind turbines are primarily classified into two main types – Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs) and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs).
Horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) – The horizontal axis means the rotating shaft of the wind turbine is horizontal or parallel to the ground. Each turbine possesses two or three blades or a disk that contains many blades attached to each turbine. The advantage of horizontal wind is that it can produce more electricity from a given amount of wind than other types, and that’s why it’s the dominate turbine in the market. HAWTs do not perform well in turbulent winds since they are generally heavier than VAWTs.
Vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) – The rotational shaft of the turbine stands vertical or perpendicular to the ground. VAWTs are primarily used in small wind projects and residential applications, where wind conditions are not consistent. They have the ability to produce well in tumultuous wind conditions and are powered by the wind coming from all 360 degrees, some even when the wind blows from top to bottom. Nevertheless, VAWTs don’t perform as well as HAWTs on steady winds.
Floating wind turbines – This type of offshore wind farm positions the turbines further from the coastline, where consistently stronger winds blow. Floating chains are attached to each turbine to the bottom of the sea, which has been found to be a more cost-effective and less dangerous method than bottom-fixed offshore farms. The 25-MW WindFloat Atlantic in Portugal & 30-MW Hywind Scotland have been surpassing expectations.
Airborne wind energy – Takes advantage of the higher altitude wind that blows more powerfully and more consistent. There’s no need for foundations or towers compared to conventional wind turbines, which is associated with their low materials and maintenance costs. It also offers more options for wind power generation sites, both onshore and offshore. Airborne wind turbines and kite power are the most promising ones at the moment.
Atsushi Shimizu has invented the world’s first typhoon turbine that can withstand powerful tropical cyclones but also harness kinetic energy. It mainly consists of the conventional wind turbine design except for two parts: the inclusion of an omnidirectional vertical axis susceptible to any wind pattern and the incorporation of the Magnus effect. The engineers have estimated that one typhoon could generate enough kinetic energy to power Japan for 50 years. Perhaps the storms will be the solution to electrify our future.
As of today, wind power is one of the most economical renewable energy technologies available. The industry has shown greater viability, and it’s been finding more support from various investors and experiencing overall growth. New wind turbine concepts are constantly being researched and developed.
A constant flow of demonstration projects is contributing to further stimulate research, innovation, and give an insight into the combination of technologies and further optimization of the designs. In addition, most countries have substantial wind resources that are yet to be harnessed. The future of wind power looks very promising!
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