I wanted to do series on Alternative Energy. I thought wind energy was a pretty interesting study, but I thought people might get bored with it so I decided to break it up into one subject per week. Some energies have more information so those will probably broken up into a two or three day period. This one will be broken up into two days. Today will be the mechanical part of it and the one pro that it has. (Keep in mind the one pro covers just about everything.) The cons will come tomorrow. There is quite a few and I had a lot to say about them (be prepared), so I decided to give them their own day.
Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth’s surface, and rotation of the earth. Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth’s terrain, bodies of water, and vegetative cover. This wind flow, or motion energy, when “harvested” by modern wind turbines, can be used to generate electricity.
Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power, wind power or wind energy. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water) or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity to power homes, businesses, schools, and the like.
Wind turbines turn in the moving air and power an electric generator that supplies an electric current. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.
Wind turbines are often grouped together into a single wind power plant, also known as a wind farm, and generate bulk electrical power. Electricity from these turbines is fed into a utility grid and distributed to customers, just as with conventional power plants.
Wind Turbine Size and Power Ratings
Wind turbines are available in a variety of sizes, and therefore power ratings. The largest machine has blades that span more than the length of a football field, stands 20 building stories high, and produces enough electricity to power 1,400 homes. A small home-sized wind machine has rotors between 8 and 25 feet in diameter and stands upwards of 30 feet and can supply the power needs of an all-electric home or small business. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 50 to 750 kilowatts. Single small turbines, below 50 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping.
As long as we have the sun we’ll have wind energy. If we don’t have the sun then we’ll be dead anyways, so we’ll never have to be without. This also makes it a renewable resource. Wind energy is clean, non-polluting, electricity. Unlike conventional power plants, wind plants emit no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 1990, California’s wind power plants offset the emission of more than 2.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, and 15 million pounds of other pollutants that would have otherwise been produced. It would take a forest of 90 million to 175 million trees to provide the same air quality.
That pro is really the only one, but it just seems to include everything. There are lots of cons that are in this argument, but it’s important to remember the big picture and think long term which is something that critics always seem to dismiss. Since I learned about the basics of renewable resource energy, things have change. There are new sources and different sources. This idea of using alternate resources is evolving and it’s only a matter of time before we learn how to fix most, if not all of these issues. Keep that in mind before you get too focused on the details.