Wind. We don’t see it but it touches our faces, pushes our clothes, carries our kites and makes us feel nippy at certain times of the year. But wind has always had that ability to power or propel vehicles such as a sail boat and even bigger sized ship of old. With the world moving on the path of renewable and clean energy, this wind power is looking up to be one reliable provider of such and this is all done by the wind turbine.
One of the better illustrations of how this contraption works is the common electric fan. As electricity is used to power the motor causing the blades to spin and provide a constant breeze, the wind turbine works on exactly the reverse principle. It captured or takes the energy from the wind as the blades turn, causing a production of energy which is then sent to a grid to be distributed to whatever apparatus or appliance needs power. So how does this “faceless”, clean and unlimited source of energy be harnessed and provide people with warm, light and heat? It is all in the design and innovation of an ancient technology to surpass its original function and meet a more pressing challenge of keeping the remaining resources of the planet and saving it from the destruction from fossil fuels.
The basic design of a wind turbine is like a gigantic electric fan. There are 4 essential components to making a wind turbine work. The blades or rotors are the ones that face the wind and spin as it passes through. They can vary in material and technological advancements such as computer controlled rotors that can adjust with the wind and flexible resilient compounds but it simply turns the wind energy into mechanical energy. While the blades turns, it is connected to a second and vital component called the gearbox. Since the large rotation of the blades is practically too slow to generate power, the gearbox converts the slow spinning motion into a high speed rotary one enough to generate electricity. The power is created in the third component which is the generator and the very last is the sturdy, sometimes concrete shaft upon where the wind turbine is perched. Within the shaft are cables that lead to batteries to store the electricity or to channel it into a power grid leading to households. As basic as the concept is, much study and technological enhancements are being done to tap the most if not 100% of wind energy. Who knew that an invention back in 200 BC to pump water, grist milling and sugar cane squeezing, and grinding wheat and corn could actually play a part in keeping the planet green and healthy?
But what is stopping people from just planting these things anywhere? Wind turbines can somewhat be likened to businesses where the important factor is “location, location, location!” Wind turbines cannot work when there is no wind so site studies are required to observe and record data on the frequency, strength and most importantly its consistency. Wind turbines need to be positioned approximately 280 feet above the ground to catch a stronger gust in an area that is clear of tall buildings that would reduce the wind’s energy or strength. Think of standing on the highest point of a hill. Without any obstructions in the wind’s path, a person can lean into it without falling over. Having the prime location for wind turbines may be all for naught if placing of each turbine is not correct. Since the turbines remove or take the energy from the wind, it would greatly affect what would be going to the other turbines misplaced closely behind or beside it. Dispersed wind would not be at all beneficial for harnessing a good amount of energy.
With the wind energy industry picking up its pace and progress, it gives a new definition to the air that we breathe. The air that we breathe doesn’t just fill us with oxygen; it can provide a home with heat, power and a healthy way of living.