December 10, 2012
Is Wind Power Green?
As people around the world feel the sting created by the energy crisis, many electric companies and private individuals are seeking to find alternatives to fossil fuel contingent energy. Along with other renewable sources of energy available currently, wind energy is growing at a pace that is surpassing that of solar energy. With all the alternative energy resources, wind power does have its setbacks. Even with setbacks, wind power is becoming a competitor for other energy sources. Wind energy produces no carbon dioxide emissions and is considered one of the cleanest energy alternatives available, but can it really be considered green? I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of wind power and provide evidence to support that wind power is a green energy source. These three advantages will show that wind energy is a renewable green energy source. The first advantage is that wind energy is a renewable green source of energy. By the term wind energy, we mean the kinetic energy (motion) in the wind. There are several methods we can use to harness this energy. Wind power is converting wind energy into useful types of energy. Wind turbines convert kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy (rotating turbine blades), which again is converted into electricity by a generator sitting inside the hub of the structure. Harnessing wind energy does not pollute the environment as fossil fuels, coal and nuclear energy does. Other than construction and installation, generating electricity with wind energy does not involve any emissions of climate gases. Wind energy is a renewable source of energy. Wind is naturally occurring and there is no way we can empty the resources (it naturally comes back). Wind energy can be source back to the nuclear fusion processes that takes place on the Sun. In 2
other words, as long as the sun keeps shining, we can harness wind energy on Earth (according to scientists, another 6-7 billion years!). This is not the case for fossil fuels, which we heavily rely on today (e.g. oil and gas). Although some places are better suited, harnessing wind energy can be done almost everywhere. The next advantage is that wind turbines are proven to produce power. So how do wind turbines produce electricity? Simply stated, the wind turbine basically works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electrical energy to generate wind energy, turbines use wind energy to generate electrical energy. These turbines are computer-controlled to improve its efficiency, and to prevent them from breaking down. Firstly, as the wind is blown, an anemometer is used to measure the speed and direction of the wind. As the turbine is moved into the direction of the wind, the blades begin to rotate. As it rotates, the energy is then transmitted into a gearbox. The gearbox is a set of gears that formulates the generator to revolve. The generator is what converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. The generator is made of opposite magnetic fields. As the magnets revolve, it produces an invisible magnetic field, which consists of electrical energy. The coil of wire which harnesses the electrical energy is therefore converted into energy. A wind turbine is in many ways the opposite of a fan. Instead of providing the electricity to get the fan to rotate, wind rotates the turbine to generate electricity. So, how exactly does wind energy produce electricity? The rotor blades on a wind turbine catch the kinetic energy in the wind and transfer it via a rotor shaft to the generator. The wing blades can be rotated and adjusted to the wind direction and strength, for maximum utilization of energy.
When the rotor spins, the power is transferred via the drive shaft and gearbox....