There are various ways of generating electricity, but which are renewable?
Any energy when generated from a renewable source is called renewable energy.
In this article, we will discuss one such type of renewable energy – Wind Energy.
Wind energy is an alternative, renewable resource that produces a high volume of electricity.
You can use it to power your home or your business.
Read on to understand all the basics of wind energy and why you can consider it a renewable resource.
What is wind energy?
Wind energy is the type of renewable energy that is generated from wind.
The wind is created by the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface, which produces breezes and air currents.
Wind power turbines capture this energy to convert it into electricity.
You can use it for homes or businesses operating on a closed-loop system.
It means that you lose nothing in conversion (like coal plants).
When the wind blows, air rushes to fill in the space left behind as gusts of wind travel across an area.
This creates pressure variations.
When they flow through turbines, they are converted into kinetic energy.
The process converts atmospheric motion into mechanical shaft torque.
The wind turbine blades spin around a rotor at speeds up to 180 miles per hour.
This torque drives generators at their base for producing electric current.
In other words, wind turbines turn kinetic energy into usable electricity.
And this makes them excellent candidates for renewable sources!
You can also use wind energy in wind farms by grouping turbines together to generate more electricity than a single turbine.
Large wind farms exist on land and offshore.
There are different types of wind turbines:
- Horizontal-axis machines
- Vertical-axis machines
- Three-blade or two-blade rotor systems.
What type of energy is wind energy?
Wind energy is one of the best types of renewable energy.
Wind power is the most sustainable green energy source that doesn’t have much environmental impact.
Not only that, it also produces a good amount of energy output.
According to World Wind Energy Association, the worldwide wind energy capacity has reached 744 GW as of 2020.
Also, as per US Energy Information Administration, ‘In 2020, wind energy contributed to 8.4% of US utility-scale energy generation.’
To generate electricity from wind turbines, you need stronger winds than exist on most days, with no storms coming through.
A typical wind power plant contains
Wind turbines –
Converts kinetic energy in the wind to mechanical energy
An electrical generator –
Converts the mechanical power to electricity
A transformer –
For changing high voltage electricity into a lower voltage that end consumers can use.
Sometimes, the mechanical power can also be directly used for some tasks like pumping water.
Is Wind Energy considered a renewable resource?
Let’s begin by asking a question
What is considered a renewable source of energy?
A renewable source of energy is that which natural processes can replace.
Renewable sources of energy are sustainable because they require fuel that is replenishable on a human timescale.
The wind is considered a renewable resource because natural processes can replace it.
Energy from this source does not diminish over time.
Winds will always blow somewhere on Earth so long as there is life present here.
A common misconception about renewable energy is that –
it implies the use of only environmentally friendly methods with no direct harm to or impact on humans.
This isn’t accurate.
For example, nuclear power is also considered renewable.
Uranium ore exists in nature at relatively stable concentrations.
It is available for mining without any depletion issues shortly.
But, it’s also worth noting that the dangers of nuclear power are well known, and this is a contentious subject.
So, the reasons why wind energy is a renewable resource & also eco-friendly are as follows:
- Wind energy is a renewable resource because it relies on natural resources, like the wind.
- Wind turbines can produce either electrical or mechanical power, so they are very flexible with the energy needs we have.
- The wind does not need any fuel to keep producing more electricity. It just keeps going! The wind will never run out and become an endangered source of renewable energy for our future generations.
- It just needs the power of the wind. So it doesn’t pollute the Earth in order to produce energy.
- Wind power plants don’t produce any greenhouse gases, radioactive wastes, or toxic substances as by-products.
Wind energy vs. other renewable energy
The wind is not the only source of energy that is renewable. There are plenty of others too.
Some of the renewable sources of energy include:
- Wind energy
- Solar power
- Nuclear power
- Geothermal energy
- Tidal Waves
- Hydro energy
It’s tough to compare one type of renewable energy to other.
The reason being all these renewable sources of energy work differently.
All these have natural sources which aren’t controlled by human factors.
However, here is a comparison between wind energy & one another renewable energy giant – solar energy.
Wind energy Vs Solar energy
While both are sustainable & renewable forms of energy, they still have many significant differences.
Here are a few –
- Set up Cost – Solar panels are more expensive than wind turbines. However, you can avail small solar panels at a lesser cost and use them on a small scale.
- Maintenance Cost – Both involve little maintenance. But wind power plants, once installed, run at less operational cost than solar panels.
- Electricity production – Wind turbines produce significantly higher electricity than solar panels. One wind turbine can produce as much power as 48
- Harnessing times – Though unpredictable, you can harness wind energy day and night. Solar energy can’t be produced during the night or in cloudy seasons.
- Greener source – Wind power is greener than solar energy. Because it releases very low CO2 and consumes less energy to produce more power.
- Space – You can install solar panels anywhere where the sun is available. Wind turbines take up a lot of space. So, it’s mostly built offshore.
Both wind & solar energy has its own benefits & drawback.
However, in terms of efficiency on a large scale, wind energy is the winner.
It’s due to its relatively low-cost, large-scale setup & an enormous amount of energy produced.
To sum it up
Wind energy is considered a renewable source because it does not take any natural resources.
It also doesn’t release harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
When you buy wind power, your investment goes towards building future sources of clean and affordable electricity to help fight climate change!