What is wind energy?
Wind is a form of solar power. Wind is caused due to a number of factors like the rotation of the Earth, the irregularities of the earth’s surface and by the scratchy heating of the atmosphere by the sun. The diversified earth’s terrain modifies wind flow patterns that are also influenced by the vegetal covering and the bodies of water. Wind flow creates motion energy and this motion energy when harvested and machinated by modern methods like wind turbines or wind mills can be used as what is called wind energy. The concept of exactly how wind energy works is being deeply researched these days. In this article we will be throwing some light on how wind energy is being generated and what all are its applications and uses.
Wind energy can power the whole world!
To understand the regeneration, use and application of wind energy, we definitely need to understand it as a resource. Now let’s throw some light on how wind is generated in the atmosphere. The sun’s rays heat the different surfaces on earth like the land, water bodies and air differently according to their different propensities to absorb heat. Also there exists a constant temperature difference between the equator and the two poles of the earth. Now the hot air at the equator expands, becomes less dense and rises which is then replaced by the cooler, denser air from the poles. This movement of the cooler, denser air to fill in the vacuum created by the upwardly moving hot air creates wind. In a word, wind can be called as earth’s circulatory system that distributes energy from warmer regions to the comparatively cooler realms. This energy when managed by harvesting reaps mechanical energy, popularly known as wind energy. Now how does wind energy work in a particular area, economically, solely depend on the wind resource of that area, which means the available amount of wind that overlays that area throughout the year.
The two main devices majorly used for generating power from the wind resource are windmills and wind turbines. Windmills are used to harness the wind resource for mechanical power like pumping water or grinding wheat whereas electricity is generated by the wind turbine. To understand how does wind energy work we need to peep in to the details of the wind turbine mechanism. Broadly classified into vertical axis and horizontal axis varieties, the modern wind turbine uses high technology materials and advanced design principles to convert the force of moving air into electricity. A typical wind turbine looks like aircraft propeller blades that turn in the direction of the moving air. The movement of the blades mechanically spins a shaft. This shaft is connected to a generator that produces electricity. Depending upon their various available sizes wind turbines can be of different power ratings. The power ratings are very much dependent on the available wind in an area and its speed. The calculation goes like this: “the energy in wind is directly proportional to the cube of the wind speed.” Thus a stronger wind indicates a lot of power.
Wind energy: Advantage or Disadvantage?
To understand exactly how wind energy work for us, we need to single out each and every pros and cons of this advanced application of modern science. The first and foremost and perhaps the biggest advantage of wind energy is that it is a non-polluting resource that is free and renewable ‘n’ number of times. The electricity that is generated is also clean and non-polluting. Compared to the conventional modern power plants windmills never produce any greenhouse gas or air pollutants. Besides saving power, windmills are also easy on the economy as compared to the fossil fuel plants since they have a minimum life-cycle cost like no fuel purchasing and minimum operating expenses. However, the concerns like noise pollution (generated by the rotor blades), visual impact and avian mortality (bats and birds being killed while flying into the rotors) are been taken care of by wisely locating the wind plants and technological developments. The biggest disadvantage seems to be the intermittent supply of the wind resource. Intermittent because all winds cannot be harvested to generate electricity as and when required. Also often the right wind plant sites are much away from the area that requires the electricity like the cities. In spite of the minor disadvantages discussed wind energy is the buzz word in this modern era and is gaining much popularity amongst the environment conscious citizens.