Renewable Energy: Wind farms

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Renewable energy is energy obtained from natural sources that are deemed as almost infinite. Wind energy is one of the most widely used renewable energies in the world, so it would be interesting to find out some of the factors related to its operations and facilities.

What is wind energy?

It is the capability of a certain system to utilise wind energy and turn it into electricity. This process is carried out by using aerogenerators (commonly known as wind turbines).

What is a wind farm?

It is an aerogenerator facility that employs kinetic energy from the air and transforms it into mechanical rotational energy that hence produces electricity.

How does it work?

In order for this transformation to be carried out, a rotor is installed on top of a tower with various blades facing the wind direction. These propellers or blades then cause a horizontal axis to rotate which consequently produces electricity.

Roughly only 1% of solar energy on earth is transformed to atmospheric motion (wind). Nevertheless, there is still an enormous amount of energy that needs to be taken advantage of. However, we need to be conscious of the fact that this energy is not uniformly distributed and is intermittent, meaning that other back-up energy sources are needed for those occasions when the wind is not blowing.

The number of hours that these types of plants are available for energy production corresponds to about 20%-30% of the hours in a year. These are low values when compared with thermal and nuclear plants that have an availability of nearer 90%.

Wind farm advantages

As any renewable energy, wind energy has interesting benefits such as:

  • It is a limitless energy source: Wind is a limitless and abundant energy source and best of all it is available anywhere in the world, unlike many other natural resources.
  • Space: Wind energy plants or wind farms can be used in spaces that are used for other purposes. Furthermore, the area used for a wind farm can easily be returned to its original state once the operation is decommissioned.
  • Non-polluting: It is a clean energy and has no lasting environmental effects nor does it produce any greenhouse gases when in operation.
  • Low cost variables: The operational and maintenance costs of these installations are relatively low.

Wind energy is a renewable energy that has become significantly more popular and utilised over the last few years and is expected to continue as such into the future. Wind energy currently has a global installed capacity of 550 GW.

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