With the recent buzz on the drift to renewable energy sources that includes solar energy, biomass and many more, there has been always been an affinity towards wind energy by many developed nations for its various advantages. The proclamation has been in effect since the stock of non renewable energy sources particularly to include coal and fossil fuel are the verge of depletion. Utilizing wind energy to generate electrical energy is therefore another approach to reduce our reliance on non renewable energy sources to fuel our everyday needs on electrical energy. When we discuss about wind energy the graphical view that floats before our eyes are a 100 feet over windmills with propeller-like blades. It is a common scenario near Denmark and also in some states in Europe and US. Some of us are aware of their implications whereas confuse it as another windmill project.
So, what exactly is this wind energy anyways and how can it be utilized to generate electricity?
Wind is caused due to uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. This sets up a convention current where the cold air molecules from colder regions of the Earth, for example Polar Regions will force the warm air molecules to rise. This is the basic principle of convention current that we had learned in our High School Physics class. However an important factor to consider is the speed of the wind energy which is the ultimate determining factor of its kinetic energy and thereby electrical energy. As we know greater the wind speed, faster will be the rotation of the turbine and hence more electrical energy can be generated through the generator as per The Principle of Electromagnetic Induction. So our ultimate goal should be to look for factors that account for wind speed. Research has shown that wind speed is greater near the hilly areas and coastal areas. Hence our target for the suitable venue to establish a wind dependent energy source has been determined.
The wind energy strikes the blades of the wind turbine which eventually is connected to an electrical generator to supply electricity. The turbine is able to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into suitable electrical energy. Therefore its construction is another crucial factor. Long turbine blades are usually preferred because of the theory that larger the diameter of the blades greater will be the electrical power generated. Doubling the diameter of the blades actually increases the power developed by wind turbines by almost four times. Another factor to be considered is the wind speed. Theory states doubling the wind speed can increase the power generated by eight times. Therefore we can conclude that wind power to electrical power is a function of both wind speed and area of wind swept by the turbine. This is the prime reason why we all see all those long blades wind turbine situated near high wind speed areas.
The Wind Energy however has some pros and cons of its own. We will now proceed to take a further look into this discussion as to deliberate whether wind energy is a sustainable energy source for our everyday needs.
Wind Energy pros and cons
- Its prime advantage that wind energy is a renewable energy source. This makes it a suitable substitute to other non renewable energy sources that we so desperately rely on.
- Also we should consider that wind energy does not emit any harmful gases into the atmosphere. It is an important issue to consider as pollutant greenhouse gases has depleted our ozone layer and has successfully contributed to Global warming. The obligations with carbon dioxide generated from burning renewable energy source have been completely eradicated in the case of Wind energy.
- Though its initial capital investment is high but its operational cost is negligible considering wind is completely free.
Though all these factors can easily influence our choice on Wind energy but we should also consider the following disadvantages that forms part of the technology.
- As I had just discussed the initial capital investment with the technology is high. The land allocation and the investments on the wind turbines or windmill can easily influence our choice. Also as we had discussed earlier that the diameter of the blade and speed of the wind are both important components for generating electricity. Hence such choices are more cost effective at present. Though attempts has been taken to reduce such cost with developing technology.
- Another core problem is its reliability. The wind energy is not a reliable energy source in in comparison to other options. Hence this technology has to be used adjacent with the existing system or other renewable energy sources.
- Though the wind energy provides advantage over air pollution but it is setback due to noise pollution. The noise generated by the system can make it impractical for residents to live; however with rapid evolution in technology new models are designed for a reduced noise level.
Hence Wind energy definitely has its set of pros and cons and we should able to weigh the pros and cons accurately to make a wise choice.