What comes to your mind when you hear ‘Wind Energy’? No doubt you may think of the generation of electricity through turbines driven by wind.
Of course, in modern times wind energy is the generation of electric current through naturally occurring wind in the atmosphere. Through energy conversion (kinetic to mechanical to electrical) electric currents are generated.
However, in time past wind energy has been harnessed by sailors, when they have “the right wind” sailing becomes easier and faster, but if the wind is against, the voyage may be delayed.
Over the centuries, man has made effort to harness wind, by using it as a means of transportation through voyages, by building windmills that convert kinetic energy to mechanical energy used in grinding mills, and more recently for generating electricity.
MANS QUEST TO HARNESS WIND ENERGY
The use of wind energy by man has started way back long, thousands of years ago, as early as 5000BCE people, especially Egyptians used wind energy to propel boats along the river Nile.
Evidence of the use of wind energy in sailing abounds, some of this evidence is the one found on Cucuteni-tryptillian ceramic which depicts sailing boats around the sixth millennium BCE.
Before the discovery of engines, all sea travels were dependent on the energy provided by wind, making wind one of the most useful and forms of energy then.
WINDMILLS VS TURBINES
You might have wondered the difference between windmill and turbines, well as the name implies, windmill, that is mills powered by wind. Windmills are constructed with moving blades which convert the kinetic energy of incident wind to rotational mechanical energy, the subsequent rotation is then used to drive a mill.
On the other hand, a turbine also has blades like the windmill, but the difference is that a turbine converts the energy in a moving fluid (liquid or gas) into electrical energy.
Windmills are one of the early ways in which man used to harness wind energy
Heron of Alexandria, during the first century, described what could have probably been a windmill, later on in China in what should be around the 7th century or after the 9th century, a prayer wheel was made, the prayer wheel was a wind-driven machine.
And ever since then windmills have continued to develop into various types, such as the post mill, Tower mill, and smoke mill
The first windmill generating electricity was built by Professor James Blyth of Scotland in 1887,
As the years go by Poul la Cour in Denmark during the 1890s developed a wind turbine that became the power plant of Askov, and by the early 1990s, there were 72 wind-driven electric generators in Denmark.
Years later various farms in the USA adopted wind as a major source of farm power, there were many companies springing up such as Wincharger, windpower, Airline Miller Airlite, etc.
Today windmills look old and low tech, however, “every king was once a crying baby” the low tech windmills gave birth to what is now a growing and sustainable source of energy.
ADVANTAGES OF WIND ENERGY
Unlike fossil fuels, in as much as the earth rotates and the sun shines, wind energy will forever be available and will never run out.
- SOURCE OF EMPLOYMENT.
Windmills and turbines also require routine maintenance by a good technician with the technical know-how.
wind turbine technician is one of the fastest-growing American jobs. According to the Wind Vision Report, wind has the potential to support more than 600,000 jobs in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and supporting services by 2050.
- CLEANER SOURCE OF ENERGY
Various summits such as the Copenhagen summit and Paris agreement have been held over the years to help nations of the world cut down flaring and other practices that are environmentally harmful.
Wind energy neither emits radiation nor creates air pollution, making it a standard clean energy source.
- WINDMILL CAN BE CONVERTED.
Old windmills could be converted into a more useful machine by incorporating a turbine which will help to generate a rather cheaper form of energy
Considering the fact that wind is free and everlasting, all that might be needed will be turbine installation and maintenance.
DISADVANTAGES OF WIND ENERGY
THREAT TO WILDLIFE
Reports from several quarters have it that birds have been seriously injured or died as a result of crashing into windmills.
The constant turning of the blades of the windmill poses a threat to wildlife.
- THE UNRELIABLE NATURE OF WIND
Serious storms and high wind may be more destructive than constructive, resulting in damages to the turbine, also wind may be slow sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of power being generated.
- NOISE POLLUTION
Wind turbines generate a sound of about 60 decibels, this may be annoying to the neighbors.
- LANDSCAPE DEGRADATION
Some wind Machines especially windmills do not look great, they look quite ugly, they can really destroy the beauty of landscapes.
- DANGER IN THE ENVIRONMENT:
During a storm, wind turbine blades may fly off causing harm to lives and properties.
How Does A Wind Turbine Work
Wind Energy now
In 2019, wind supplied 1270 TWh of electricity, which was 4.7% of worldwide electrical generation, with the global installed wind power capacity reaching more than 651 GW, an increase of 10% over 2018. Wind power supplied 15% of the electricity consumed in Europe in 2019.Wikipedia
From 2000 to 2015, cumulative wind capacity around the world increased from 17,000 megawatts to more than 430,000 megawatts. In 2015, China also surpassed the EU in the number of installed wind turbines and continues to lead installation efforts.National Geographic
wind energy has continued to grow up to date as a clean source of energy for man.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
By 2050, wind energy could avoid the emission of 12.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases. Wind energy preserves water resources. By 2050, wind energy can save 260 billion gallons of water—the equivalent to roughly 400,000 Olympic-size swimming pools—that would have been used by the electric power sector.Energy.gov
As a sustainable source of energy, the future of wind alongside other renewables such as solar seems really bright.
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Featured image BBC