What is wind energy?
Wind energy is obtained from the wind; in other words, it is using the kinetic energy of air masses. It is a clean, renewable energy. The term “aeolian” comes from the Latin aeolicus: belonging to or related to Aeolus, god of the winds in Greek mythology.
What are the uses of wind energy?
In principle, wind power could be applied to any end use, but it has traditionally been used to pump water, grind grain, and generate electricity.
As for pumping water, wind energy has been used domestically and for extensive livestock farming. Pumping water by wind for irrigation has had limited applications, even in recent years. Milling grains with windmills is now obsolete. The main use of wind energy today is for the generation of electricity.
Wind energy can be generated on a small or large scale. Wind farms generate large amounts of electricity, and they are capable of supplying a population of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people.
What are the advantages of wind energy?
1. It is a renewable, clean energy because it originates from natural atmospheric phenomena and doesn’t produce emissions or pollutants.
2. It is available almost everywhere on the planet.
3. It is local and thus generates employment locally.
3. It can be adapted to many places that aren’t suitable for other purposes, such as desert areas, but it can also coexist with other forms of land use, such as cultivation or livestock.
4. It is quick to install.
5. Its use combined with photovoltaic solar energy allows homes to power themselves, eliminating the need to connect them to the supply grids.
6. It has a low production cost and, with simple strategies (such as installation at different levels), it is quite stable, so it can compete with traditional energy sources in terms of profitability.
Wind energy is indigenous to a location and can be found in any corner of the planet.
What is wind power engineering?
This is responsible for designing wind farms, as well as recommending changes in processes or infrastructure to improve performance, reduce operating costs, or comply with regulations.
Wind engineering models the wind paths to optimize the design of wind farms. It also designs access to parks, collection systems, substations, switching stations, and transmission lines.
What is a wind farm?
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines that transform wind energy into electrical energy. They can be located on land or at sea. So far, land parks have been the most common, but offshore parks – also called maritime parks – have seen significant growth in Europe in recent years.
How does a wind farm work?
The wind turbines that make up a wind farm draw on the kinetic energy of wind and transform it into mechanical energy of rotation. Wind turbines consist of a tower that has a rotor at the top with multiple blades oriented in the direction of the wind. There are many types of wind turbines, but they all have some basic components that work as follows:
- The blades rotate due to the action of the wind.
- The movement of the huge blades makes the bushing turn.
- The bushing drives a slow speed shaft, which makes between 10 and 20 revolutions per minute.
- The mechanical energy of the rotary movement reaches the multiplier, a gearbox that takes the rotational speed up to 1,500 revolutions per minute (some wind turbines don’t have this component).
- The motion, whether accelerated or not, is transmitted to the generator, where mechanical energy is transformed into electrical energy.
- The electricity goes down through the tower, where it is transferred to the grid and distributed to the different electricity supply points.
Wind turbines usually send energy to a transformer substation before entering the grid.
Fun facts about wind farms
- The Netherlands were the first and leading promoters of this technology, so much so that windmills are representative of the country.
- The first wind turbine was built in 1888. It measured 17 meters in diameter and had 144 cedar wood blades. It gave only 12 kW of power.
- The first modern turbine was installed in the United States during the 1940s.
- It is believed that wind turbines generate a lot of noise, but in reality, when they’re operating at maximum power, the noise they create is comparable to that of a refrigerator located 50 yards away.
- Wind energy saves water, and some studies suggest that, by 2030, its use could save about 1.571 billion cubic meters of water in Europe.
- It is estimated that, in 2020, wind energy employed 1.2 million people (double the number in 2012).
- Despite COVID-19, 1,720 MW of wind power were installed in Spain in 2020 (in 2019, there were 2,243, and in 2018 only 393 MW).