Wind Energy Guide
 

Wind Energy - What Is Wind Energy and How To Use It


Wind is nothing but air in motion which is caused by the heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. However, as the earth’s surface consist of plain land, hills, oceans, etc that do not lie in the same level, the absorption of the heat varies a lot. Also, during the daytime, the air above the earth’s landmass heats up quicker than the same over the oceans, causing it to expand and rise. As a result, cooler and heavier air rushes in to fill the vacuum, while the sundry levels of earth generates dissimilar air currents.



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People since the ancient times had been using wind for sailing ships in the high seas. The winds of the famous Roaring Forties (latitudes between 40?S and 50? S) had played a significant role in the Clipper route (ships sailing betweenEngland and Australia) as a means of rapid transit across the Indian Ocean. Besides, sailors were accustomed to various trade winds that helped sailing through uncharted oceans.


However, wind as a renewable form of energy has again hit the headlines in the light of crisis in fossil fuels and soaring Greenhouse gases. Calamity in the availability of petroleum products, caused by feuds among the middle-eastern oil producing countries have further deteriorated the picture. Wind energy is, therefore, back again as a source of producing electricity that may be called a renewable energy source for the simple reason that wind will blow as long as the earth’s surface gets the sunrays.


Taking the cue from earliest American settlers who used windmills to grind corn, cut wood at sawmills or pump water, engineers now build modern types of windmills that do not resemble their earliest versions one bit, but are equally if not far more efficient in running generators to produce electricity. Why, even in the early eighties California had taken the lead in producing electricity through wind-based equipment and still utilizes more than twice as much wind energy as compared to the other US states. The first offshore Wind Park has been planned in an area off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts where various types of windmills or wind machines are scheduled to be tested.


Though there are basically two types windmills or wind machines (turbines) produced in the United States, namely, Horizontal-axis machines and Vertical-axis machines, most of the equipment now used are the Horizontal-type units. These machines have blades like airplane propellers and stand as tall as a 20-storey structure having three blades that spans 200’ across. Unbelievable but true, the largest wind machine in the world have blades larger than a football field to capture maximum wind energy.


Wind farms or wind power plants, as they are often called, consist of several wind machines that are clustered together to produce mass scale electricity, while the world’s largest Wind Farm that is known as Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas comprise 421 wind turbines that generate electricity to serve more than 220,000 homes every year. However, such plants are mostly owned and operated by individuals who produce and sell electricity unlike public utility companies and are known as Independent Power Producers.


The efficiency of wind turbines depend a lot on the sped of wind which varies from place to place as also from season to season. Fortunately for the United States, this logistics works well in most areas. In California (Tehachapi) for example, the wind blows strongly from April through October due to severe heating of the Mojave Desert during the summer months causing the surrounding air to rise and the onrush of denser air from the Pacific Ocean to fill the void. This help creating more electricity in summer so that the Californians can operate their air conditioners more freely. In Montana, on the other hand, the blow of wind is stronger during the winter months, creating enough electricity for the population to use central heating in most homes and establishments.


Next to solar power electricity, wind energy electricity is the most eco-friendly form electric current that is available from the nature. It is a clean fuel and a green fuel available free of cost all through the year although some amount of maintenance is necessary to keep the rotating shafts ship shape all the while. In the case of solar power, even this is not required as there are no moving parts at all in a solar panel to keep it going.

 

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