is Wind Energy?
The wind is one of the best sources of energy available to man for free. It has been used since the ancient times initially with the Egyptians who utilized the wind to sail ships on the Nile River more than 5,000 years ago. People later on discovered windmills which they used to grind wheat and other grains. As time passed, windmills became more improved and its use expanded to generating electricity.
Wind refers to moving air. It is produced by the uneven heating of the earth痴 surface by the sun. Heat from the sun is absorbed at different levels as the earth is made up of land and water of varying types.
The science behind wind is simple to understand. At daytime, air above the land heats up faster than air over water. The warm air above the land then expands and goes up while the heavier and cooler air takes its place in the lower level thereby creating winds. The process is reversed during nighttime as air cools faster over land compared to air over water.
Principal Use of Wind Energy
Wind energy is now mainly used in electricity generation. It is an ideal energy source because of its renewable form. So long as the sun shines, the earth will never run out of wind.
Windmills are the primary machines used in generating power. The first windmills which looked like huge paddle wheels were sighted in Persia or what is now known as Iran. It was improved centuries later by the people in Holland using propeller-type blades.
In producing electricity, modern windmills are used today. Blades are a major feature of the modern wind machines which collect the kinetic energy from the wind. The main function of windmills is to reduce the speed of the wind. Wind normally flows over the blades causing a lift that makes them turn similar to what happens to the winds of an airplane. Since the blades are connected to a drive shaft, electricity is then generated every time they turn.
Types of Wind Energy
There are basically two types of wind machines depending on the rotating shaft. These are the horizontal-axis type and the vertical-axis wind machines.
The horizontal type is currently the most widely used wind machines. This has huge blades measuring about 200 feet similar to airplane propellers and a height of a 20-storey building. Did you know that the world痴 biggest wind machine blades can span more than that of a football field?
The vertical type, meanwhile, feature blades that are similar to a giant two-bladed egg beater. It stands at 100 feet with a width of 50 feet.
Benefits and Issues of Wind Energy
Wind power plants are mostly located in Europe and in the U.S. where government programs have been implemented to support the development of wind power. Germany ranks first in terms of wind power capacity followed by the U.S., Spain and India. Denmark, while sixth in place, produces 20 percent of its electricity from wind.
Wind energy is beneficial to man and the earth because it痴 not only clean but it does not cause air or water pollution either.
The only adverse effect of wind machines is on the population of wild birds. Some people also consider them eyesores on land. Read
more about using wind energy in your home and how wind energy works.
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