Alternative Energy - Wind

WindWind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using: wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships.

A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines which are connected to the electric power transmission network. Offshore wind farms can harness more frequent and powerful winds than are available to land-based installations and have less visual impact on the landscape but construction costs are considerably higher. Small onshore wind facilities are used to provide electricity to isolated locations and utility companies increasingly buy back surplus electricity produced by small domestic wind turbines.

Wind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation and uses little land. Any effects on the environment are generally less problematic than those from other power sources. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis. As of 2010 wind energy production was over 2.5% of worldwide power, growing at more than 25% per annum. The monetary cost per unit of energy produced is similar to the cost for new coal and natural gas installations.[4] Although wind power is a popular form of energy generation, the construction of wind farms is not universally welcomed due to aesthetics.


Although very consistent from year to year, wind power has significant variation over shorter timescales. The intermittency of wind seldom creates problems when used to supply up to 20% of total electricity demand, but as the proportion increases, a need to upgrade the grid, and a lowered ability to supplant conventional production can occur. Power management techniques such as having excess capacity storage, dispatchable backing supplies (usually natural gas), storage such as pumped-storage hydroelectricity, exporting and importing power to neighboring areas or reducing demand when wind production is low, can greatly mitigate these problems. However none of these energy storage strategies, when combined with Wind, are presently competitive enough to be implemented worldwide, and are thus still regarded as too costly.

Mechanical power

Blyth's "windmill" at his cottage in Marykirk in 1891Sailboats and sailing ships have been using wind power for thousands of years, and architects have used wind-driven natural ventilation in buildings since similarly ancient times. The use of wind to provide mechanical power came somewhat later in antiquity. The windwheel of the Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria in the 1st century AD is the earliest known instance of using a wind-driven wheel to power a machine.


The first practical windmills were in use in Iran at least by the 9th century and possibly as early as the 7th century.  The use of windmills became widespread use across the Middle East and Central Asia, and later spread to China and India.[19] By 1000 AD, windmills were used to pump seawater for salt-making in China and Sicily.[20] Windmills were used extensively in Northwestern Europe to grind flour from the 1180s,[19] and windpumps were used to drain land for agriculture and for building. Early immigrants to the New World brought the technology with them from Europe.

In the US, the development of the "water-pumping windmill" was the major factor in allowing the farming and ranching of vast areas otherwise devoid of readily accessible water. Windpumps contributed to the expansion of rail transport systems throughout the world, by pumping water from water wells for steam locomotives. The multi-bladed wind turbine atop a lattice tower made of wood or steel was, for many years, a fixture of the landscape throughout rural America.

Electrical power

In July 1887, a Scottish academic, Professor James Blyth, built a cloth-sailed wind turbine in the garden of his holiday cottage in Marykirk and used the electricity it produced to charge accumulators which he used to power the lights in his cottage. His experiments culminated in a UK patent in 1891. In the winter of 1887/8 US inventor Charles F. Brush produced electricity using a wind powered generator which powered his home and laboratory until about 1900. In the 1890s, the Danish scientist and inventor Poul la Cour constructed wind turbines to generate electricity, which was used to produce hydrogen and Oxygen by electrolysis and a mixture of the two gases was stored for use as a fuel. La Cour was the first to discover that fast rotating wind turbines with fewer rotor blades were the most efficient in generating electricity and in 1904 he founded the Society of Wind Electricians.

By the mid-1920s, 1 to 3-kilowatt wind generators developed by companies such as Parris-Dunn and Jacobs Wind-electric found widespread use in the rural areas of the midwestern Great Plains of the US but by the 1940s the demand for more power and the coming of the electrical grid throughout those areas made these small generators obsolete.

During the 1920s the first vertical axis wind turbine was built by Frenchman George Darrieus and in 1931 a 100 kW precursor to the modern horizontal wind generator was used in Yalta, in the USSR. In 1956 Johannes Juul, a former student of la Cour, built a 200 kW, three-bladed turbine at Gedser in Denmark, which influenced the design af many later turbines.

In 1975 the United States Department of Energy funded a project to develop utility-scale wind turbines. The NASA wind turbines project built thirteen experimental turbines which paved the way for much of the technology used today. Since then, turbines have increased greatly in size with the Enercon E-126 capable of delivering up to 7 MW. Wind turbine production has expanded to many countries and wind power is expected to grow worldwide in the twenty-first century.


Wind energy

The surface of the Earth is heated unevenly by the Sun, depending on factors such as the angle of incidence of the sun's rays at the surface (which differs with latitude and time of day) and whether the land is open or covered with vegetation. Also, large bodies of water, such as the oceans, heat up and cool down slower than the land. The heat energy absorbed at the Earth's surface is transferred to the air directly above it and, as warmer air is less dense than cooler air, it rises above the cool air to form areas of high pressure and thus pressure differentials. The rotation of the Earth drags the atmosphere around with it causing turbulence. These effects combine to cause a constantly varying pattern of winds across the surface of the Earth.

The total amount of economically extractable power available from the wind is considerably more than present human power use from all sources. Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, carried out a "top down" calculation on how much wind energy there is, starting with the incoming solar radiation that drives the winds by creating temperature differences in the atmosphere. He concluded that somewhere between 18 TW and 68 TW could be extracted. Cristina Archer and Mark Z. Jacobson presented a "bottom-up" estimate, which unlike Kleidon's are based on actual measurements of wind speeds, and found that there is 1700 TW of wind power at an altitude of 100 metres over land and sea. Of this, "between 72 and 170 TW could be extracted in a practical and cost-competitive manner".

Distribution of wind speed

The strength of wind varies, and an average value for a given location does not alone indicate the amount of energy a wind turbine could produce there. To assess the frequency of wind speeds at a particular location, a probability distribution function is often fit to the observed data. Different locations will have different wind speed distributions. The Weibull model closely mirrors the actual distribution of hourly wind speeds at many locations. The Weibull factor is often close to 2 and therefore a Rayleigh distribution can be used as a less accurate, but simpler model.

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm may also be located offshore.

Almost all large wind turbines have the same design — a horizontal axis wind turbine having an upwind rotor with three blades, attached to a nacelle on top of a tall tubular tower. In a wind farm, individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage (often 34.5 kV), power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium-voltage electric current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage electric power transmission system.

Many of the largest operational onshore wind farms are located in the US. As of November 2010, the Roscoe Wind Farm is the largest onshore wind farm in the world at 781.5 MW, followed by the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (735.5 MW). As of November 2010, the Thanet Wind Farm in the UK is the largest offshore wind farm in the world at 300 MW, followed by Horns Rev II (209 MW) in Denmark.

There are many large wind farms under construction including; The London Array (offshore) (1000 MW), BARD Offshore 1 (400 MW), Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm (317 MW), Lincs Wind Farm (offshore), (270 MW)Shepherds Flat Wind Farm (845 MW), Clyde Wind Farm (548 MW), Greater Gabbard wind farm (500 MW), Macarthur Wind Farm (420 MW), Shepherds Flat Wind Farm (845 MW), Lower Snake River Wind Project (343 MW) and Walney Wind Farm (367 MW).

Feeding into gridInduction generators, often used for wind power, require reactive power for excitation so substations used in wind-power collection systems include substantial capacitor banks for power factor correction. Different types of wind turbine generators behave differently during transmission grid disturbances, so extensive modelling of the dynamic electromechanical characteristics of a new wind farm is required by transmission system operators to ensure predictable stable behaviour during system faults (see: Low voltage ride through). In particular, induction generators cannot support the system voltage during faults, unlike steam or hydro turbine-driven synchronous generators. Doubly fed machines generally have more desirable properties for grid interconnection.[citation needed] Transmission systems operators will supply a wind farm developer with a grid code to specify the requirements for interconnection to the transmission grid. This will include power factor, constancy of frequency and dynamic behavior of the wind farm turbines during a system fault.

Siemens and Vestas are the leading turbine suppliers for offshore wind power. DONG Energy, Vattenfall and E.ON are the leading offshore operators. As of October 2010, 3.16 GW of offshore wind power capacity was operational, mainly in Northern Europe. According to BTM Consult, more than 16 GW of additional capacity will be installed before the end of 2014 and the UK and Germany will become the two leading markets. Offshore wind power capacity is expected to reach a total of 75 GW worldwide by 2020, with significant contributions from China and the US.

Worldwide installed wind power capacity . Worldwide there are now many thousands of wind turbines operating, with a total nameplate capacity of 238,351 MW as of end 2011.[39] World wind generation capacity more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006, doubling about every three years. The United States pioneered wind farms and led the world in installed capacity in the 1980s and into the 1990s. In 1997 German installed capacity surpassed the U.S. and led until once again overtaken by the U.S. in 2008. China has been rapidly expanding its wind installations in the late 2000s and passed the U.S. in 2010 to become the world leader.


At the end of 2011, worldwide nameplate capacity of wind-powered generators was 238 gigawatts (GW), growing by 41 GW over the preceding year.2010 data from the World Wind Energy Association, an industry organization states that wind power now has the capacity to generate 430 TWh annually, which is about 2.5% of worldwide electricity usage. Between 2005 and 2010 the average annual growth in new installations was 27.6 percent. Wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35 percent by 2013 and 8 percent by 2018. Several countries have already achieved relatively high levels of penetration, such as 28% of stationary (grid) electricity production in Denmark (2011), 19% in Portugal (2011), 16% in Spain (2011), 14% in Ireland (2010) and 8% in Germany (2011).As of 2011, 83 countries around the world were using wind power on a commercial basis.

Europe accounted for 48% of the world total wind power generation capacity in 2009. In 2010, Spain became Europe's leading producer of wind energy, achieving 42,976 GWh. Germany held the top spot in Europe in terms of installed capacity, with a total of 27,215 MW as of 31 December 2010.

Source: Wikipedia