What is wind energy, how is it converted into electricity and what are its advantages?
Offshore wind Onshore wind
Wind energy, which transforms the power of an inexhaustible resource such as wind into electricity, is a sustainable and valuable investment for the future. Utilising wind requires the construction of wind farms, either on land or at high sea, with dozens of wind turbines. These giants have become part of the landscape in recent years, but do we know how they work?
How is wind generated? Solar radiation does not affect the earth's surface equally: some areas are warmer than others, and in these areas the air, which weighs less, tends to rise, creating low pressure areas, while in colder areas the air descends and weighs more, creating high pressure areas. The difference in pressure causes the air to move and creates wind, an element so powerful that it can be used to generate energy.
What is wind energy
Wind energy is energy obtained from the force of the wind. How? Through a wind turbine that transforms the kinetic energy of air currents into electrical energy. The energy is mainly extracted with the rotor, which transforms the kinetic energy into mechanical energy, and with the generator, which transforms this mechanical energy into electrical energy. We are talking about a renewable , efficient, mature and secure energy that is key to the energy transition and the decarbonisation of the economy.
How does wind power work. Characteristics
As we have already mentioned, in order to utilise the kinetic energy of the wind and convert it into electrical energy, it is necessary to use a wind turbine. The optimal use of these giants, (they are usually between 80 and 120 metres high) depends on the strength of the wind. For this reason, wind farms, which pool a large number of wind turbines and make it possible to obtain this energy in large quantities, must be set up in places where windy conditions are predominant.
The wind turbines have to be oriented in the direction of the wind, which is done by means of a vane on the nacelle. From there, the force of the air currents will set the three main parts of the wind turbine in motion:
- The rotor: composed of three blades and the bushing that joins them together, its function is to capture the force of the wind and convert it into mechanical rotational energy.
- The multiplier: connected to the engine by means of a shaft, its function is to increase the rotational speed from 30 revolutions per minute (rpm) to 1500 rpm.
- The generator: this element is responsible for converting the mechanical energy of rotation into electrical energy.
Each of the wind turbines that make up a wind farm are linked together by underground cables that carry the electricity to a transformer substation. From there it is transported to homes, factories or schools, among other recipients, through the distribution networks of the various electricity companies.
Wind energy Clean, efficient and safe
Wind power installations
- Onshore wind
- Offshore wind
- 2022 892 64
- 2021 774 56
- 2020 709 36
- 2019 621 29
- 2018 568 23
- 2017 522 19
- 2016 473 14
- 2015 421 12
255 GW installed wind power capacity in Europe
Source: Wind Europe, Wind energy in Europe in 2022
Around the world
- 2022 842 64
906 GW installed wind power capacity in the world
Source: Global Wind Energy Council, Global Wind Report 2023
Parts of a wind turbine
A wind turbine is a sophisticated piece of engineering. Its size means that it is built in parts and assembled on arrival at the wind farm.
We will analyse the characteristics of each of its parts.
- Rotor diameter
- Anchor ring
- Low-speed shaft
- High-speed shaft
- Power cable
- Yaw mechanism
- Electric generator
- Electronic control
- Cooling unit
- Wind vane and anemometer
Types of wind power
There are currently two types of wind energy depending on where the wind turbines are erected:
Wind energy is responsible for producing electricity by harnessing the wind from wind farms located on land. To do this, we install wind turbines capable of transforming kinetic energy from the wind into electricity suitable for use and send it to the distribution network.
Offshore wind energy
Offshore wind energy is the energy obtained by harnessing the force of the wind that is produced on the high seas, where it reaches a higher and more constant speed than on land due to the absence of barriers. In order to make the most of this resource, mega-structures are installed that are seated on the seabed and equipped with the latest technical innovations.
Main advantages of wind energy
Wind energy offers numerous benefits, both for the companies that invest in it and for society by helping to minimise the impact of climate change :
As it does not require any combustion process, it is an energy with low greenhouse gas (GEI) emissions, the main culprits of global warming .
Wind is an unlimited resource, and so is its use as long as there are sufficient air currents.
Both the cost per kW produced and its maintenance is quite low. In areas where the wind blows harder, the benefit is even greater.
Wind farms are built after a rigorous analysis and planning process. In addition, depopulated areas are sought to avoid negative effects on inhabitants.
It generates green jobs
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), wind energy already employs more than 1.2 million people today and the number of green jobs will not stop growing.
How a wind farm is built
The process involved in building a wind farm is very complex since there are many characteristics that must be analysed to know where and when it should be built. Of these, the most important characteristics that must be analysed are the spatial, temporal and vertical variation of wind through time. These parameters are studied with wind vanes and anemometers and the future production of the wind farm is estimated to guarantee its potential efficiency. Cutting edge supercomputing techniques optimise the design of the wind farm complex to maximise the generation of energy.
Sedar Project. Video voice transcription (Spanish version) [PDF] External link, opens in new window.
Innovation is also allowing us to make great progress in offshore wind energy. An example is the Romeo project, a European initiative led by Iberdrola to reduce the operating and maintenance costs of wind farms.
Iberdrola, pioneer in onshore wind power for 20 years, now stands out in offshore wind power with new projects and markets.
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- Wind Energy
Introduction to Wind Energy
As fossil energy supplies dwindle, the development of alternative energy sources has become a necessity. Simultaneously, global energy demand is increasingly rising, placing the planet on the brink of a global energy crisis. Furthermore, the widespread use of traditional energy sources pollutes the atmosphere and leads to global warming. Wind and other renewable energy sources, on the other hand, are feasible and clean alternatives to fossil fuels. Wind is one of the most cost-effective and efficient renewable energy sources because of its low operating costs and broad availability. One of the fastest-growing clean energy technologies is wind power. Globally, consumption is growing, partially due to lower prices.
According to IRENA's latest statistics, global installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore has increased by nearly 75 times in the last two decades, from 7.5 gigawatts (GW) in 1997 to 564 GW in 2018. Wind energy production more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, accounting for 16 per cent of all renewable energy generation in 2016. Wind speeds are high in many parts of the world, but the best locations for producing wind power are often remote. Offshore wind power has a lot of promise.
What is wind energy?
Wind power is a type of energy conversion in which turbines transform wind kinetic energy into mechanical or electrical energy that may be utilized as commercial wind turbines generate electricity by harnessing rotational energy to power a generator. They are composed of a blade or rotor and an enclosure known as a nacelle, which houses a drive train atop a tall tower. The biggest turbines can generate 4.8–9.5 megawatts of electricity, with rotor diameters that can exceed 162 meters (531 feet), and are mounted to towers that may reach 240 meters (787 feet).
Wind energy is the most established and mature renewable energy source. It creates electricity by using the kinetic energy created by the influence of air currents. It is a clean and renewable energy source that decreases greenhouse gas emissions and protects the environment.
Wind power has been utilized since antiquity to propel sail-powered vessels or to power mill gear that moves mill blades. Wind turbines have been used to generate electricity since the early twentieth century. The wind propels a propeller, which turns the rotor of a generator, which generates power, via a mechanical system. Wind turbines are frequently clustered together in wind farms to maximize energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The machines have a twenty-year lifetime.
Wind energy, also known as wind power, is generated by employing a wind turbine, which is a device that harnesses the strength of the wind to generate electricity. The wind blows the turbine's blades, which are linked to a rotor that further rotates a generator. Wind turbines are classified into two types: horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) and vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) (VAWTs). The most prevalent form of the wind turbine is the HAWT. They often feature two or three long, thin blades, similar to an airplane propeller. The blades are oriented to face straight towards the wind. VAWTs feature shorter, broader curved blades that resemble electric mixer beaters.
Individual wind turbines may generate 100 kilowatts of power, which is enough to power a house. Small wind turbines are also employed in locations such as water pumping facilities. Wind turbines that are slightly bigger perch on towers that can reach 80 meters (260 feet) in height and have rotor blades that can reach 40 meters (130 feet) in length. Wind turbines with rotor blades that are more than 162 meters (531 feet) long can be seen sitting on towers that rise 240 meters (787 feet) tall.
Uses of wind energy
Some of the uses of wind energy are mentioned below.
powering cargo ships (via kites)
reducing carbon footprint.
land surfing .
Once created, power can be utilized, linked to the electrical grid, or stored for later use.
Working principle of a turbine
Wind turbines operate on a simple principle: rather than using energy to create wind (like a fan does), wind turbines utilize the wind to create power. Wind moves a turbine's propeller-like blades around a rotor, which spins a generator, which generates energy.
The wind is a type of solar energy created by three simultaneous events:
The sun heats the atmosphere unevenly.
Surface irregularities of the Earth
The earth's rotation.
The words "wind energy" and "wind power" both refer to the act of harnessing wind energy to create mechanical power or electricity. This mechanical power can be employed for specific activities (such as grinding grain or pumping water), or it can be converted into energy via a generator.
Small wind turbines are commonly employed in scattered applications. Single tiny wind turbines with a capacity of fewer than 100 kilowatts are primarily utilized for residential, agricultural, and small commercial and industrial uses.
FAQs on Wind Energy
1. What is a Wind Turbine?
Wind energy is converted into electricity by a wind turbine, which can then be used to power electrical devices, stored in batteries, or distributed over power lines.
2. What is the Mechanism of a Windmill?
Windmills transform wind energy directly into mechanical energy for activities like milling grain—the term's origin—or pumping water, which is what most windmills on farms are used for. A windmill's spinning vanes turn a camshaft, which is connected to the work machinery through gears and rods. The job receives all of the force.
3. What is the Difference Between Wind Turbine and Windmill?
A wind turbine is not the same as a windmill or a wind generator. Windmills and wind pumps have existed for centuries. Windmills have been used to grind grain, and wind pumps have been used to pump water from the ground and drain it to make room for new growth. Wind turbines produce electricity in the same way as hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants do, and new wind turbine technology has put them in a class of their own. Aside from a few mechanical features, the only thing they have in common is that they're all driven by wind.
4. What is the cause of wind energy?
Wind is created by the sun's uneven heating of the earth's surface. Because the earth's surface is made up of various types of land and water, the sun's heat is absorbed at varying rates. The daily wind cycle is one example of this inconsistent warmth. Wind energy is now mostly utilized to create power. Windmills that pump water were historically common across the different nations, and some are still in use on farms and ranches, mostly to give water to cattle. Wind energy is an optimum replacement for hazardous fossil fuels.
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Assignment on Wind Energy (pdf)
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About This Document
Essay on Wind Energy: Wind energy is one of the most reliable and abundant sources of renewable energy on this planet. The wind was also for grinding grains by several farmers. It is also surprising to note that one of the earliest windmills had a vertical axis of rotation. The people use braided mats or sails for rotating these windmills across the vertical axis. These windmills had an operational advantage as they were independent of the direction of the wind. The windmills using the horizontal axis of rotation are relatively new as compared to vertical axis ones.
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- Distributed Wind
- Utility-Scale Wind
- What Is Wind Energy
What Is Wind Power?
Wind power animation.
This aerial view of a wind turbine plant shows how a group of wind turbines can make electricity for the utility grid. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to homes, businesses, schools, and so on. View the wind turbine animation to see how a wind turbine works or take a look inside .
Wind power or wind energy describes the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water), or can be converted into electricity by a generator.
You can learn how wind turbines make electricity and see an illustration of the components inside a wind turbine, or view a wind power animation that shows how moving air rotates a wind turbine’s blades and how the internal components work to produce electricity.
Wind Turbine Sizes and Applications
Wind turbines can provide energy for onsite use as well as for export for sale. The energy needs will determine the size of the turbine.
Wind turbine economics are maximized when the project size is designed to match the energy needs of the load while also monetizing economies of scale and equipment track record. Residential onsite energy use requires a small turbine (typically less than 10 kilowatts (kW)) that can generate the amount of power that the home requires for daily operation. Midsize machines can produce enough energy to match larger commercial onsite loads. Utility-scale machines that maximize generation for the site infrastructure footprint and cost are best suited for utility-scale projects.
Regardless of project size, projects connected to the electrical grid will require utility approvals and may require grid impact studies before construction can begin.
Residential-Scale Onsite Energy Use (<10 kW)
Residential, small turbines produce about as much energy as a home requires. Because these turbines are generally installed on shorter towers, you need to get a site evaluation in order to determine where to site the project to ensure it will perform as designed. These wind turbines are purchased with cash, so while return on investment can be important to consider, it is not always the deciding factor of whether a project goes forward. Many states provide incentives for this class of machine. Residential-scale wind turbines typically do not warrant a detailed onsite resource assessment.
Small Commercial-Scale Onsite Energy Use (10-50 kW)
This class of wind turbine produces more power than the average house consumes but can be well suited for small businesses; farms; ranches; facilities such as schools, office buildings, or part of a campus; or a public load such as a hospital. This turbine class typically incorporates a higher level of machine sophistication, resulting in greater efficiency and power production but also requiring increased maintenance. These turbines, however, typically require less maintenance than larger machines. This class of machine can cost as much as a house and is the smallest project size that might be financed, which would require a lender review. Projects of this size may also trigger the need for onsite resource assessment, but often projects can move forward by using nearby measurements and experienced siting and project modeling.
Commercial Onsite Energy Use (50-250 kW)
This wind turbine class produces commercial quantities of power and can be well matched with campuses, larger facilities, communities, and larger municipal public loads. This wind turbine class shares many technical and operational attributes of utility-scale machines and is often installed on towers that require special permits and coordination with other regulatory organizations or agencies. These turbines often represent a substantial capital investment and thus require corporate or institutional approvals. It is not unusual for facility managers to partner with financial players while developing projects of this size. These projects require experienced and detailed project modeling using onsite or nearby wind resource data.
Large Commercial or Industrial Energy Use (500 kW-1.5 MW)
This wind turbine class is at the top end of the midsize machines and is well suited for communities and very large onsite industrial loads and can even form the basis of small wind farms in certain situations. This machine class is typically indistinguishable from utility-scale turbines on a technology basis. The towers often exceed 200 feet, which need to be fitted with obstruction lighting. Projects of this size warrant community involvement and endorsement or approval at all levels. This class, except in very unusual situations, is typically financed through commercial lenders with their own due-diligence requirements and therefore require feasibility studies and onsite resource assessment campaigns.
Utility-Scale Energy Use (1.5-7.5 MW)
Utility-scale wind turbines , while also occasionally installed at the point of use, are generally installed in large groups producing energy for sale. These are highly efficient, state-of-the-art wind turbines that operate with exceptionally high availability rates and generate cost-competitive electricity at power plant scales. These large turbines have rotors measuring more than 250 feet in diameter and are installed on tall towers that require aviation obstruction notification and lighting. Because of their size and the scale of the installations, utility-scale wind turbines require environmental, utility, and public coordination at the highest levels. Utility-scale wind farms require exacting resource assessments, legal and financial due diligence, utility integration, and financing typical of very large capital investments installations, such as airports.