Understanding How Wind Turbines Generate Power

Wind power is considered a renewable energy source because it will be with us as long as the sun beats down on the planet. Wind is a creation of heat produced by objects warming up under the relentless rays of the sun. Certain objects warm up faster than others. When this occurs, wind is created. As hot air rises off the hotter objects, cooler air rushes in to fill the gap. This rushing process is, of course, wind.
Wind power has long been of interest to scientists and energy companies. It is relatively cheap and can easily be tied into the current utility grids that feed power to nations. The question with wind power has always been how to generate enough energy from wind power to make it feasible. The entire discussion comes down to wind turbines.
Wind turbines are the devices that catch the wind and convert the inherent energy into electricity. The process works exactly like a hydropower dam. As the wind hits the turbines, the blades catch it and spin. The spinning motion then cranks a turbine, which kicks out electricity. The only difference between the two processes is we are talking about wind instead of water.
A single hydropower dam can produce a lot of electricity, but a single wind turbine cannot. Why? Well, the water rushing through a dam is condensed under the weight of itself. When it is released into the generator shutes, it also runs at a near vertical angle to maximize the speed of the water and generator cranking output. With wind, both of these factors are non-existent. One cannot really harness the wind to really power up a wind turbine. Instead, one has to install dozens and even hundreds of turbines to generate significant amounts of electricity. As you might imagine, this can cause problems.
The biggest problem with wind power is the number of turbines needed to produce enough electricity. While the turbines have grown more efficient and larger, one still needs significant numbers to produce enough tangible energy. The two primary solutions are old and new. The old solution is to find great swaths of vacant land for the turbines. With growing populations, this is still relatively difficult and expensive. The new solution is to build wind farms at sea. This makes much more sense since the wind on the ocean is nearly constantly there and the “land” isn’t costly.
At the end of the day, experts estimate wind power will account for upwards of 20 percent of all our energy needs in the next two decades. With further refinements and the use of offshore platforms, the number could be much higher.
Rick Chapo is with SolarCompanies.com - information on wind power.
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