Brief History of Wind Energy
Since early recorded history, people have been harnessing the energy of the wind. Wind energy propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C. By 200 B.C., simple windmills in China were pumping water, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East. Early in the twentieth century, windmills were commonly used across the Great Plains to pump water and to generate electricity.
Now new methodologies of using the energy of the wind eventually have spread around the world. The Dutch refined the windmill and adapted it for draining lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta. When settlers took this technology to the New World in the late 19th century, they began using windmills to pump water for farms and ranches, and later, to generate electricity for homes and industry.
The steam engine replaced European water-pumping windmills. In the 1930s, the Rural Electrification Administration's programs brought inexpensive electric power to most rural areas in the United States.
However, industrialization also sparked the development of larger windmills to generate electricity. Commonly called wind turbines, these machines appeared in Denmark as early as 1890. In the 1940s the largest wind turbine of the time began operating on a Vermont hilltop known as Grandpa's Knob. This turbine, rated at 1.25 megawatts in winds of about 48 Km/h, fed electric power to the local utility network for several months during World War II.
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Working Principles of Wind Turbines
Wind is a form of solar energy. Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth's surface, and rotation of the earth. Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth's terrain, bodies of water, and vegetation. Humans use this wind flow, or motion energy, for many purposes: sailing, flying a kite, and even generating electricity.
The terms wind energy or wind powers describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical energy or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water) or a generator can convert this mechanical energy into electricity.
A wind turbine works in the opposite nature of a fan. Instead of using electrical energy to make wind, like your house a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. Take a look inside the picture of our wind turbine to see the various parts that facilitates the ability of the wind turbine in making electricity. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to homes, businesses, schools, and so on.
Types of Wind Turbines
Modern wind turbines have two basic types which are; the horizontal-axis variety, as shown in the photo, and the vertical-axis design, like the eggbeater-style Darrieus model, named after its French inventor.
Horizontal-axis wind turbines typically either have two or three blades. These three-bladed wind turbines are operated "upwind," with the blades facing into the wind.
Sizes of Wind Turbines
Utility-scale turbines range in size from 100 kilowatts to as large as several megawatts. Larger turbines are grouped together into wind farms, which provide bulk power to the electrical grid.
Single small turbines, below 100 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping. Small turbines are sometimes used in connection with diesel generators, batteries, and photovoltaic systems. These systems are called hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations, where a connection to the utility grid is not available.