Ecology

How we can harness the energy of the wind

Given that the use of non-renewable energy sources generates many environmental problems, it is intended to replace them with alternatives that are truly competitive. Some are new and others, as in the case of wind energy, not so much, but almost all of them are renewable. Mankind has been using wind energy for many centuries thanks to windmills, although an improved version of these devices is currently used in so-called wind turbines, which we will talk about shortly.

What is wind or wind energy

We start by telling what is wind or wind energy . Wind energy is that which is achieved thanks to the wind or, in other words, it is the use or exploitation of the kinetic energy that the air masses have and that can be transformed with the appropriate methods into mechanical energy and then into electricity or whatever. another useful form of energy intended for certain human activities.

How do we take advantage of the wind? To take advantage of wind energy properly it is essential to know about seasonal variations, as well as night and day that the winds may have. It is also important to know how the wind speed varies with height and the maximum values ​​that can be reached.

How wind energy is generated

Wind energy is generated through the use of wind motors or wind machines that can transform the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy that will later be used to obtain electrical energy . To do this, we need an electrical generator known as a wind turbine. The operating mechanism is as follows:

  1. The kinetic energy that the wind has moves the blades or blades of the wind turbine.
  2. Next, the rotor or wind turbine, which is made up of the blades and the shaft to which they are attached, begins to rotate and drives a generator (usually an alternator) with the help of a mechanical system.
  3. Through the use of magnets, the generator ultimately produces electrical energy.

So that the installation of wind turbines can be really profitable, these are gathered in large groups that we call wind farms . All the electricity produced in this way is evacuated through a power line. This power line goes to a substation from which it is distributed to each of the end users.

In addition, there is talk of different types of wind energy depending on the different types of wind turbines. The main ones are:

  • Horizontal axis wind turbines: they are the most used and known, their axis of rotation is parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical axis wind turbines: They are also known as VAWTs and their axis of rotation is perpendicular to the ground.
  • Bladeless wind turbines: with them we can get rid of the impacts produced by conventional wind turbines and, in addition, they are cheaper. Here you can know some Original alternatives to the typical wind turbines .
  • Offshore wind turbines: are those located in the sea, near the coast. Here wind energy is more stable and strong, although its maintenance has higher costs.
  • Small wind and micro wind turbines: these are instruments with which we can see how wind energy is used at home. They are placed in a place exposed to the wind, for example, on the roof of our homes. We recommend you read this other article about Windmills: how to make homemade wind energy .

How you can harness the energy of the wind

What is wind energy used for? We are going to answer this question by taking a look at history, since one of the greatest uses of wind energy was its use for centuries with windmills . They used to grind wheat to obtain flour, they were also used to extract water and were even used in sawmills and in the production of paper. It was from the year 1979 when the utilities of the wind began to change and it began to be used to obtain electrical energy . Therefore, nowadays it is used mainly to obtain electrical energy or electricity We already give it countless uses in our day to day life. We use it to charge batteries, to illuminate urban centers or homes and for heating, etc.

However, its energy production varies a lot, due to changes in the wind, except for areas such as Galicia, La Mancha or Tarifa. For this reason, it is still used only as a complement to other traditional sources of energy.

Finally, we indicate what are the advantages of wind energy and its drawbacks :

Advantages of wind energy

The advantages of wind energy are many over other energy sources. Let’s see some of them:

  • It is a clean and safe energy. Or put another way, it does not emit any type of particles into our atmosphere or greenhouse gases, as do non-renewable energy sources that use fossil fuels. Wind energy does not pollute and helps us in the fight against climate change. 
  • It is an inexhaustible resource . Because of its status as a renewable resource, we know that it will never run out and it will always be at our disposal.
  • Facilitates energy independence. It is an energy that we can exploit in our own country, in this way we avoid having to import it from other countries.
  • Competitive prices. Series production techniques for wind turbines and experience in choosing the best sites, among others, has allowed it to be an economically competitive source of energy today.
  • It can be made compatible with other activities. Wind farms do not interfere with the development of agricultural or livestock activities. In addition, the occupied space is less than in a solar park with photovoltaic panels.

Disadvantages of wind energy

The environmental impact of this type of energy is generally less problematic than the impact generated by other energy sources. However, it is not without its drawbacks. Some drawbacks of wind energy are:

  • It has a visual impact on the landscape where it is located.
  • Some birds die when they collide with the blades.
  • There is an increase in erosion as the nearby soil surface dries up.
  • Wind turbines cause noise and electromagnetic interference.
  • The wind sometimes has important variations and does not have enough speed to drive the wind turbine.
  • It can also happen that the speed is excessive, in which case the protocol is to disconnect them to avoid damage to the structure.
  • At the moment, systems large enough to be able to store energy in considerable quantities and efficiently have not yet been designed.

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