Sunday, April 10, 2011

Introduction to Wind Power & Energy from the Wind

Wind has been in use since the early days of civilization but its use is what differs from today’s world. In those days wind was used primarily to drive ocean-going ships that connected continents and opened up international trade. One of the famous winds is the Monsoon that held up local and international trade.

In western countries however, wind was a major component and energy source in pumping water. The idea of using wind to generate electricity had not been given a thought then.The use of wind to generate electricity was realized in the 19th century when the 12 kW DC windmill generator constructed by Brush in the USA and the research undertaken by LaCour in Denmark.

However, for much of the twentieth century there was little interest in using wind energy other than for battery charging for remote dwellings and these low-power systems were quickly replaced once access to the electricity grid became available.

The onset of oil is considered to have hit hard on the development of Wind Energy since it was cheap and plenty. However in the 1990s when the price of oil suddenly rose, due to uncertainty of quantity, the need for a reliable source of energy that was environmentally-friendly started again. This time government funded projects led the way.
As the development of Wind energy has gone beyond borders, many concepts and designs have been proposed and tested on a massive scale. Countries and government funded projects have shown some fascinating designs. The Golding of 1955) and Shepherd and Divone in Spera of 1994, record the 100 kW 30 m diameter Balaclava wind turbine in the then USSR in 1931 and the Andrea Enfield 100 kW 24 m diameter pneumatic design constructed in the UK in the early 1950s. In this turbine hollow blades, open at the tip, were used to draw air up through the tower where another turbine drove the generator. Horizontal and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines have emerged as the two major conceptual designs used commercial. Germany is currently leading with the invention followed by Sweden.

In the millennium ear, Wind has dominated the clean energy sector and is a major source for electrical energy. Despite the cost of setting up a wind farm, many countries have invested in this concept which has indeed proved rewarding. Wind energy is not only limited to large commercial plants but new small scale (DIY) designs have reduced cost of home energy. The number of home installations have grown to 10 Million plus. Developing countries have not been left behind like Kenya which will commission her second wind power project which is to be the largest in Africa, the 300MW Lk. Turkana Wind Power Project.
Wind energy is clearly on the rise and could become a major source of electricity in years to come because wind is widely available and often abundant in many parts of the world. Significant resources are found on every continent. Tapping into the world’s windiest locations could theoretically provide 13 times more electricity than is currently produced worldwide, according to the World watch Institute, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization.

Basic Concepts
Wind Energy – This is basically energy from the wind that can be converted into useful form which includes electrical energy. Wind is basically kinetic energy which is converted to mechanical energy by the turbines.
Wind Power – This is energy from the wind converted to electrical energy for domestic or commercial energy.
Wind Mill – A machine that converts the energy form the wind other more useful forms. These were used in early times but have been replaced by modern wind turbine.
Wind Turbine – These are carefully and technically designed aerodynamic machines which replaced the wind mills used for generating electrical energy on a massive scale.

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