Advantages Of Wind Energy
Because of the advantages of Wind Energy, it is a growing sector around the world. The top 10 countries using wind energy are China (221 GW capacity), United States (96.4 GW), and Germany (59.3 GW). Others are India, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and Brazil.
Thanks to the increased advantages of wind energy, wind farms reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a ratio of 1:1. Grids produce around 800 g of CO2 while wind energy displaces all these greenhouse gases.
In 2016, there were more than 314,000 wind turbines in operation around the world. China had set up 104,934 wind turbines, while the US had set up 52,343 turbines by the end of 2016. By the end of 2019, the US added more than 60,000 wind turbines across 41 states. These turbines have a combined capacity of 105,583 MW.
What this proves is that wind energy is popular and has many benefits. Here are the pros of wind energy.
What is Wind Energy? What Are The Advantages Of Wind Energy?
Wind energy is a free, clean, and renewable energy source used in the production of electricity. It can also refer to the process of generating electricity using wind. The wind is moving air or air in motion.
Saving energy and using clean energy is important in our fight against global warming. In order to reduce energy consumption roof insulation is an important factor when looking at the global picture.
It’s usually produced by the uneven heating of the surface of the Earth by the Sun. As you already know, Earth has various water and landmasses. These masses absorb solar radiation unevenly.
When this happens, the expansion of warm air occurs, creating less pressure. The air begins to move from high-pressure regions to low-pressure regions producing wind. To convert wind into electricity, you need wind turbines.
Want to know how wind turbines work?
How Wind Turbines Work?
The most common types of wind turbines are:
- Horizontal axis turbines
- Vertical axis turbines
Horizontal axis turbines are the most common types of wind turbines. They have three blades located at the top of the tower. The blades pivot around the turbine or rotor. These blades operate upwind, and when they rotate, they turn the rotor, which produces electricity.
Vertical axis wind turbines are available in different versions. One of the most common versions is the Darrieus model or eggbeater style. Named after its French inventor, its turbines are omnidirectional. As such, no adjustment needed to ensure the blades point into the wind to operate.
In this section, we discuss how a horizontal axis turbine works.
First off, a horizontal axis turbine has the following components:
- Blades and Rotor
- Low-speed shaft
- High-speed shaft
When the wind blows, it lifts and rotates the three blades. This causes the rotor to spin. The low-speed shaft connects the gearbox to the rotor. This low-speed shaft turns at a speed of 30 to 60 rpm.
As the blades turn, the low-speed shaft increases the rotation speeds from 30 to 60 RPM to 1,000 to 1,800 rpm. This is the minimum rotational speed required by the generator to produce electricity. What you need to know is that the generator is the heaviest and most expensive part of the wind turbine.
It produces 60 cycle AC electricity. The controller starts the wind turbine at speeds of 8 to 16 mph. It then shuts off the machine at speeds of 55 mph. This is because turbines cannot operate at a wind speed of 55 mph or more, and damage can occur due to high winds.
The wind turbine is usually set up atop a tubular steel tower. The steel tower has a height of 80 meters or 262 feet. It supports the rotor, generator, low and high-speed shaft, and other components.
Additional Wind Turbine Components
Wind turbines have other components used in measuring wind speed and direction. They are:
- Wind vane
The wind measurements collected by the instruments above helps in directing the turbine to rotate and face the strongest wind. Also, they help to determine the angle of the blades, which improves the efficiency of power generation.
Modern wind turbines have a yaw motor and drive. The yaw motor powers the yaw drive. In turn, the yaw drive helps to orient the turbine to face the wind when its direction changes. What you need to know is that downwind turbines don’t have a yaw drive. This is because the wind blows the rotor changing the direction.
A modern generator starts generating electricity once wind speeds reach 6 to 9 mph. This is the cut-in speed. If wind speed is 55 mph or higher, the turbine shuts down. This is to prevent damage to the blades and other components.
Advantages of Wind Energy
As we know there are many advantages of wind energy however there are a few disadvantages of wind energy as well. In this post, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy.
1. Renewable Source of Energy
The wind is a renewable source of energy. Not only is it free. But it’s ready and waiting, unlike fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal, which are non-renewable.
In fact, it helps to lower greenhouse gas emissions along with the adverse effects. What most people don’t know is that wind relies on solar energy. NASA predicted that the Sun will exist for another 6.5 billion years.
As such, solar energy and wind are not about to get depleted any time soon.
2. Wind Energy Is Cost-effective
Wind energy is cost-effective. Unlike fossil fuels, where mining and shipping occur, wind energy requires no drilling. When it comes to the cost of developing wind farms, it’s expensive.
But according to studies, wind farms are cheaper to set up and operate compared to nuclear plants or coal plants. In fact, prices decreased by more than 80% since 1980.
As a consumer, you can buy power from a wind farm, which means you don’t have to invest any money to enjoy the benefits of wind energy.
3. Wind Energy is a Clean Energy Source
Coal-fired plants generate electricity by burning coal in a boiler. This produces steam under tremendous pressure. The stream flows into a turbine, which helps in the production of electricity. After power generation, the steam is usually cooled and condensed back into the water before flowing to the boiler to start the process again.
In a coal-fired plant, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides are usually produced. These gases pollute the atmosphere. For example, carbon dioxide contributes to an increase in temperature, while Sulphur dioxide leads to acid rain.
Wind energy does emit any chemicals during the production of electricity. As such, it’s safe for the environment.
4. No Waste
Nuclear power was once a popular source of energy. The problem is, nuclear power plants produce radioactive waste. Based on studies, nuclear power plants produce 10,000 cubic meters of high-level waste.
When it comes to coal plants, a 1000MW coal plant produces 300,000 tons of ash annually. This pollutes the air leading to respiratory diseases. Wind energy produces no waste. Why you may ask.
This is because wind turbines harness kinetic energy producing electricity. Basically, no burning or chemical processes involved.
5. Requires Less Water
Yes, wind turbines require less water. Unlike nuclear power plants that require 600 times more water, and coal-fired plants require 500 times more water. This makes wind energy the perfect source of power, especially in drought-prone areas or semi-arid locations.
Modern wind turbines are incredibly attractive. They don’t look clunky or rustic. They are white and modern looking. As such, they will not become an eyesore on your farm or disrupt operations on your farm.
Not only that. The modern design allows the wind turbines to capture 30% to 40% more kinetic energy compared to older versions.
6. Creates Jobs and Landowners Make Extra Cash
Wind energy projects create exciting job opportunities. From meteorologists to structural engineers, lawyers, bankers, and assembly workers. Based on studies, wind energy creates more than 30% compared to coal plants and nuclear power plants.
To set up a wind farm, government organizations and service providers need land. As a landowner, you can make extra cash by renting out your property for wind farms. Alternatively, you can sell the land and opt to settle in another location.
Disadvantages of Wind Energy
The following are the disadvantages of wind energy.
1. Causes Visual and Noise Pollution
One downside of wind energy is that it creates visual and noise pollution. In fact, this led to a spate of protests around the world barring the construction of onshore and even offshore wind farms. According to experts, the closest distance for the installation of a wind turbine to a home is 300 meters or more.
At this distance, the wind turbine is capable of emitting noise levels of 43 decibels. This is less than the noise produced by a refrigerator at 40 decibels and an AC at 50 decibels. If the distance increases to 500 meters, the noise level falls to 38 decibels.
2. Unsafe to Wildlife
Wind energy provides a lot of environmental benefits, such as reducing greenhouse emissions and air pollutants. Despite this, wind turbines are unsafe for wildlife. In particular, they are a danger to birds and bats as they kill more than 328,000 birds every year. This is common during migration.
The most vulnerable birds are the night migrating songbirds, grassland birds, and raptors. To prevent the death of birds and bats, engineers must site wind turbines away from migratory corridors.
Apart from causing death to bats and birds, wind turbines have a significant impact on the landscape. As they spread over more land, it leads to the industrialization of the countryside as well as habitat loss.
3. Safety of Residents
Engineers spent thousands of hours designing wind turbines. Not only to improve the production of electricity but to ensure they are safe to residents. The problem is, in case of a severe storm or high winds, damage can occur to the blades of the wind turbine. This is a safety hazard to the people living or driving close to the wind farm.
Shrapnels from the blade may end up causing damage to nearby homes or moving vehicles. As such, it may lead to physical disability or even death. Apart from being unsafe to people, wind turbines suffer from intermittency.
This is where disruption occurs caused by the inconsistency of wind. As such, it can be hard to predict the amount of energy collected.
The construction of wind turbines and wind farms is costly. In 2017, the cost of constructing a wind turbine was $1.6 million per megawatt. To generate 20 MW, a wind farm needs at least 13 turbines. This means the cost of the wind farm will rise to $32 million.
Apart from being expensive, they take a long time to construct. First off, meteorologists and engineers must evaluate:
- Wind speed
- Wind direction
- Air pressure
- Humidity and other factors.
They need to build local meteorological towers and radars to monitor the site for a