Wind Power

Posted August 22nd, 2011 by Stephen Ogunyiola

Wind PowerWind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines which are connected to the electric power transmission network. The construction of wind farms is not universally welcomed because of their visual impact, but any effects on the environment from wind power are generally less problematic than those of any other power source. The intermittency of wind seldom creates problems when using wind power to supply up to 20% of total electricity demand, but as the proportion rises, increased costs, a need to upgrade the grid, and a lowered ability to supplant conventional production may occur.

Power management techniques such as exporting and importing power to neighboring areas or reducing demand when wind production is low, can mitigate these problems. Small wind facilities are used to provide electricity to isolated locations and utility companies increasingly buy back surplus electricity produced by small domestic wind turbines.

The Conversion of Wind Into Electricity
Wind power is converted into electricity by magnets moving past stationary coils of wire known as the stator. As the magnets pass the stator, alternating current (AC) electricity is produced. It is then converted into direct current (DC) electricity which can be used to charge batteries which store the electrical energy or can also be fed into a grid interactive inverter for feeding power into the electricity grid.

Wind Power Advantages
The following are advantages to using wind power:

1. The wind is free and with modern technology it can be captured efficiently.
2. Once the wind turbine is built the energy it produces does not cause greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
3. Although wind turbines can be very tall each takes up only a small plot of land. This means that the land below can still be used. This is especially the case in agricultural areas as farming can still continue.
4. Many people find wind farms an interesting feature of the landscape.
5. Remote areas that are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply.
6. Wind turbines have a role to play in both the developed and third world.
7. Wind turbines are available in a range of sizes which means a vast range of people and businesses can use them. Single households to small towns and villages can make good use of range of wind turbines available today.

Wind Power Disadvantages
The following are disadvantages to using wind power:

1. The strength of the wind is not constant and it varies from zero to storm force. This means that wind turbines do not produce the same amount of electricity all the time. There will be times when they produce no electricity at all.
2. Many people feel that the countryside should be left untouched, without these large structures being built. The landscape should be left in its natural form for everyone to enjoy.
3. Wind turbines are noisy. Each one can generate the same level of noise as a family car traveling at 70 mph.
4. Many people see large wind turbines as unsightly structures and not pleasant or interesting to look at. They disfigure the countryside and are generally ugly.
5. When wind turbines are being manufactured some pollution is produced. Therefore wind power does produce some pollution.
6. Large wind farms are needed to provide entire communities with enough electricity. For example, the largest single turbine available today can only provide enough electricity for 475 homes, when running at full capacity. How many would be needed for a town of 100,000 people?

As with other alternative energy sources, such as hydroelectric and solar power, wind power is not an ideal solution for an energy source. Rather than rely on wind power as an energy source, we must seek out less costly, more efficient, and more reliable alternative energy.

Image Credit: The Modern Green

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