Wind Power

One of the major problems the human race is facing today is the reliance on fossil fuels to create energy. Long before pollution regulation and green energy large factory’s would vent black smoke and lead gasoline cars would line the streets. Little consideration was taken about pollution or the never ending supply of cheap fossil fuel. In this day and age we know that the dwindling supply of fossil fuel will eventually run dry and that Carbon Dioxide emissions (one of the five major greenhouse gasses) from industrial progress are aiding in the greenhouse effect which is taking its toll on the entire planet.

The United States only contains 4% of the worlds population but produces almost 25% of all the Carbon Dioxide emissions. By comparison Britain emits only 3%, about the same as India which has 15 times as many people. As we are recognizing the consequences of their use of fossil fuel efforts have now been made as we try and break away from the reliance as an energy source. One zero emission source that seems to stand out above the rest is Wind power.

In 1938, G.S. Callendar argued that the level of carbon dioxide was climbing and raising global temperature, but most scientists found his arguments implausible.

Solving The Problem

The earliest known designs of Wind Power were used in 900 A.D. in Persia to grind grain and pump water. The concept has been used around the world for centuries but the first use of a large windmill to generate electricity was a system built in Ohio in 1888 by Charles F. Brush. Despite its relative success in operating for 20 years, the Brush windmill demonstrated limitations. The 12 kilowatts produced pales beside the 70-100 kilowatts produced by modern application windmills daily.

Currently the United States operates wind power plants in 32 states with a total generating capacity of 41,400 MW of power, enough to meet the energy needs of more than 3 million homes. To get a better picture there are 91,241,000 housing units for single detached and mobile homes in the United States alone. China has been ranked the number one country in wind power having a generating capacity of 44,733 MW of power. In the US alone it cost $50,00 dollars for 1MWh so our potential output is worth $2,070,000,000 dollars alone.

My Hometown Hull, MA

How It works

How-does-a-wind-turbine-work-1.jpgWindmills often called wind turbines are a very simple design that use aerodynamic blades to catch the wind and rotate. The slow rotation is channeled into a gearbox and fed to a generator that turns the kinetic energy from the blades into electricity that is collected and distributed back into the power grid. Wind turbines can be vertical or horizontal depending on the design.

Windmills are an ingenious way to harness the power of gravity and the changing air pressure of the earth. Certain geographic locations help to power wind turbines as well, such as bodies of water. Sea-land breezes occur from uneven heating between land and the body of water. A body of water has a much higher heat capacity than land, which means it takes longer to either increase or decrease its temperature. During the day, the air over the land heats and rises,creating a low pressure for the sea air to flow into. At night, the water stays warm while the land cools off quickly, and the air reverses its flow. A great example of this process is beautiful Cape Cod.

Drawbacks with Wind Power

The first drawback is the steady rate of energy production due to the winds unpredictability. Every region of the earth has wind speed that vary from day to day and season to season, ranging from dead calm to gales. Although new designs and variable pitch rotors can help draw the most energy possible from almost all different wind conditions, wind speed changes generally force turbines to operate well below their capacity and average output. Ultimately the numbers given by manufacture are the max the unit could produce in ideal conditions. Great care is taken in surveying land and building sites that will be the most efficient for a wind turbines production.

The second key drawback is the number of windmills needed to power larger utilities. The solution for that is called a wind farm. Wind farms are groups of standardized, mass produced turbines that have the capacity to power small towns or factories. The environmental impact on the land and wildlife around the construction of the farms is also a concern. Often housing developers and the public object, finding wind farms sited near their homes ugly and noisy, "Cape Wind." The major advantage of wind power is that it does not burn fuel or pollute the air or water. Those characteristics are also what makes wind power one of the safest forms of energy. No combustion, no nuclear fission or fusion and no kinetic energy stored (hydroelectric).

"We are establishing a program to authorize for the first time the leasing of federal waters for projects to generate electricity from wind as well as from ocean currents and other renewable sources," President Obama

Determine how much CO2 It produces or inhibits

Coal is a naturally occurring combustible material consisting primarily of the element carbon. It is formed from ancient plant material that accumulated in a surface environment such as a swamp where complete decay was prevented by sealing off oxygen. As the debris was sealed off from oxygen it slowly was attacked by anaerobic bacteria (that do not require oxygen to live) and converted it to simpler form, carbon and simple compounds of carbon and hydrogen (hydrocarbons). Because of the way it is formed, coal, petrolium and natural gas are referred to as a fossil fuel.

merman.jpg The Combustion formula for Coal

C + O2 => CO2 (12 kg C)+(32 kg O) => (34 kg CO2)

The Combustion formula for Wind

Wind + Windmill => Emission free kinetic energy

Why Isn't wind power the top energy source today? What would you do to make it better?

Although wind energy is a free zero emissions power producer its unreliability in some regions has halted it from becoming the leader in energy production. Ever advancing technology is making the turbines more efficient but we have yet to hit the plateau where the availability of green energy is worldwide and sustaining. If more aerodynamic blades for lighter wind flow could be produced with lighter weight materials wind power could be a viable solution in the future and if not by itself used in tandem with other methods of green power production.

"This turbine is a money machine. Every time the wind blows, we can invest that savings in more renewable energy. Our engineering cadets will see that this is an efficient opportunity to harness a natural resource that will always be available and always be free; for us, it's a two-fer."

Admiral Richard Gurnon

Cape Wind Project