By Chloe Smith
Wind has been a tool of humankind for centuries. As far back as 200 BC, Persian, Chinese and Middle Eastern people used windmills for irrigation, wood cutting and grinding grain.
Throughout the ages of civilization, the windmill evolved, and the ﬁrst wind turbines began to convert kinetic energy from wind to electricity in 1888.
Now, they join the ranks of sustainable energy sources marketed by politicians and activists and make up 7.2% of power in the United States.
But are there negative elements that outweigh the beneﬁts?
Wind turbines use kinetic energy to create electricity. The aerodynamic force of the rotor blades creates energy, which is converted to electricity and stored in a generator inside the turbine. The generator produces 60 cycle AC electricity, and it is usually an oﬀ-the-shelf induction generator.
Wind direction determines the design of the turbine. Upwind turbines face into the wind, while downwind turbines face away. The blades spin the low-speed shaft at about 30-60 rotations per minute. Wind speed is usually around 8 to 16 miles per hour, and wind speed over 55 miles per hour shuts the turbine down. High winds can cause damage to the turbines, so they stop when wind speeds are high.
Vertical axis wind turbines are a newer form of wind technology that has been in a mainly niche market. However, newer research is suggesting that they may be more eﬃcient in gathering wind energy than traditional wind turbines.
Vertical axis wind turbines have the rotor shaft arranged vertically instead of horizontally and can use wind from every direction. Since it is vertical, the generator and gearbox areplaced closer to the ground, which makes maintenance easier and more accessible.
Wind turbines donʼt rely on fossil fuels or other fuels to run, only the wind. This means their fuel is essentially free and unlimited. As long as the wind keeps blowing, the energy keeps ﬂowing. Wind turbines are also one of the cleanest forms of energy and donʼt contribute greenhouse gases or other harmful emissions or toxins to the environment.
Wind turbines, however, can be deadly to certain forms of wildlife. Flying birds and bats can’t see the gigantic spinning blades until it is too late. Conservation groups have raised concerns about the eﬀects of wind turbines on local wildlife species because of this. Wind turbines are also extremely noisy and can contribute to noise pollution, which can make it diﬃcult to live nearby.
Wind turbines are also expensive in upfront costs to build and often require maintenance every six months. A wind turbine can cost between $2 and $4 million to install, and another $42,000 to $48,000 in maintenance costs.
And just like solar panels on cloudy days, wind turbines are a variable generation resource. If the wind isnʼt particularly strong that day, energy production is hindered.
While wind energy technology is evolving and may improve, it may not be a current solution to energy needs. With it being a variable source, it’s not as reliable as fossil fuels, and this can inhibit people from supporting it fully.
Wind Energy: An Introduction by Mohamed A. El-Sharkawi https://justenergy.com/blog/wind-energy-pros-and-cons/
%20on%20a,Click%20NEXT%20to%20learn%20more. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/vertical-axis-wind-turbine https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/08/10/new-6-bladed-vertical-axis-wind-turbin es-can-power-your-oﬀ-grid-home-for-30-years-safely/?sh=6553jb1f2ba5
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