Individual Wind Turbines

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy Info

Wherever they may be located, wind farms are now being seen as the modern equivalent to the old coal power plant. Scores of wind turbines all working in unison can now be seen both on and offshore throughout the world, but a wind turbine does not need a friend to be useful.

Wind farms are incredibly productive, as anything that combines a singular might will be. However, there is still a place for the individual wind turbine being used to power a specific area. One wind turbine alone can generate a lot of electricity. For example, a singular wind turbine in Reading, England generates enough power to satisfy the electricity demands of 1,000 homes nearby.

Individual wind turbines also have an advantage over wind farms in that they do not require a lot of space. Numerous wind turbines combined to create a wind farm will require acres of land on which to erect the turbines and their electricity generators; just one wind turbine obviously only needs a fraction of this space. For this reason, individual wind turbines are being considered a viable solution for urban areas, where there is not enough floor space to erect anything more than a singular turbine.

While it is unlikely the future includes the idea of every street having its own wind turbine generating close-by electricity, the idea of individual wind turbines is growing. We could well see a day when town planning includes the usual wind turbine to generate electricity, and from an environmental point of view alone, this is wonderful progress.

Onshore Wind Farms

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Wind And Solar Energy Info

A wind farm is an area which is host to several wind turbines, sometimes up to 100 individual turbines at a time. Rather than working as individual turbines, all of the energy collected by these wind farms is grouped into one larger generator of electricity; making such developments the power plant of the modern era.

The most common type of wind farm is the onshore wind farm. This essentially means where each wind turbine is anchored into land, usually on a grassy field or high on a hillside. Other forms of wind farms are possible; offshore wind farms are built in the sea, and airborne and near water wind farms are also increasingly common.

The reason for the onshore wind farm’s popularity is that they are easy to construct when compared with other options. Materials can be brought to the site, and while the transportation is expensive. When the component parts have arrived at the wind farm location, from there the erection of each turbine is relatively simple by modern engineering standards. Cranes are most typically used to winch the blades into place.

Onshore wind farms are most typically built in rural areas, though some cities are now building them close to urban areas. For example, a new wind farm in Glasgow, Scotland is only 20 miles from the centre of the city. While there are some aesthetic issues – particularly with local residents – this close proximity to where electricity is needed most means onshore wind farms can be extremely productive.

Offshore Wind Farms

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy Tips

While we may all have seen wind farms on grassy fields, the most likely place for wind farms to really come into their full efficacy is out to sea. Off shore wind farms are becoming more common, and many experts predict they are the future of wind power.

The reason for this is simple: offshore, the wind is more powerful as it is not obstructed by surface objects. Particularly in deep water, the resistance on the surface of the water is minimal, and the wind can be extremely powerful. This was, of course, once utilised by sailing ships before the days of the engine, and this wind power is now finding a new purpose.

Offshore wind farms are built, as the name would suggest, in the sea. Turbines that look exactly the same as their onshore counterparts are erected into the sea bed, and protrude above the water line, with their blades in the open air catching the powerful winds. The energy generated is then transported back to shore using under sea pipes. It is a simple case of: more wind, more power generated.

These wind farms are more expensive to construct than typical onshore wind farms, as they involve placing the base of the turbine in the sea bed. This initial cost and workload is, however, rewarded by increased efficiency. The job is also made easier by offshore wind farms being built on areas of ocean that have naturally raised sections of the sea bed.

Offshore wind farms also solve the associated humanist issues with turbines – such as noise levels, shadow flight and aesthetic issues – and increase electricity production. Once more, man turns to the sea for its answers.

The Forgotten Environmental Effect of Wind Turbines

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy Info

When people talk of the environmental effect of wind turbines and wind power, they often forget to mention the problems wind turbines cause to local wildlife. Birds are an obvious problem to wind turbines; as many turbines are erected at cruising level for birds, many ecological campaigners were convinced bird fatalities would increase due to intereference from turbines.

Wind turbines are usually painted white, so they seemingly blend with surrounding cloud. This, however, is what makes them such hazards to birds; who may not notice the turbines until they are fatally close to the revolving blades.

Statistics show that the effect wind turbines have on birds is negligible. That is, wind energy from turbines is no more costly to bird welfare than other forms of renewable energy production (such as nuclear power) and is actually 20 times less dangerous than traditional fossil fuel production plants.

While birds are safe, it is becoming apparent that bats are not. Nocturnal and blind, winged bats are becoming the silent victims of wind turbines as their usual navigational tools which help them avoid collisions are interupted by the rotating blades.

As well as collisions, bats have to deal with the low pressure caused by wind turbine tips. If they are lucky enough to avoid colliding with the tips themselves, the low pressure generated can cause a condition known as barotrauma. Bats lungs are damaged by exposure to this low pressure, and it can be fatal. Birds have more robust lungs and are not effected by this condition.

So while birds are doing well with wind farms, further research is required on the effects on the bat population. The most obvious solution is placing radar transmitters on top of turbines; bats avoid these, as they trigger their sonar navigational systems.

Wind Turbines and ‘Shadow Flicker’

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Wind And Solar Energy Tips

If you do not live near a wind turbine, it is unlikely you will have ever heard the term ‘shadow flicker’ in everyday usage. The problem however is being discussed fervently by those who reside near onshore wind farms, and the matter is having to be settled by the courts in some cases.

Like all large structures, wind turbines cast a shadow. If one lives near enough to an active wind farm, this shadow may fall on your home at various points of the day. To many homeowners, this in itself is annoying, particularly if they live in rural areas and did not expect to have to deal with shadows falling on their property.

However, this is not the sole concern of those living near an active wind turbine. Unlike almost every other type of structure, wind turbines have three rotating blades. In the case of shadows cast on to a house, these blades themselves cast a shadow. However, the blades are in motion, so the shadow is a constantly moving menace that is extremely disturbing to witness. The constant passing of this shadow can occur for hours per day, and if residents are at home during that time, there is no escape.

Many energy companies refuse to exist shadow flicker is a problem, which has lead to many residents forming action groups. The solution is actually very simple, as shadow flicker will not occur if a turbine is placed 3,000 feet away from the nearest home. However, some energy companies have placed certain turbines as close to residences as 1,100 feet. Many anticipate changes in the law will prevent this from happening again, based on the evidence presented by annoyed existing residents who have to live with shadow flicker.

The Effect of Wind Turbines on Humans

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy Tips

Wind turbines and farms are becoming an evermore familiar sight on the landscape, and while generally accepted as a useful resource for electricity generation, they have not been without their critics.

One of the major criticisms of wind farms is that they are damaging to the humans who live near them. This effect is both psychological and physical, though there is more evidence for the former. The issue of physical health problems caused by living near a wind farm are a matter of much debate in the medical community.

The psychological problems are more basic. Many of those living near a wind farm find it difficult to sleep due to the noise of the turbines. While the noise is not excessive (it equates roughly to the noise of medium-level traffic, which most of us ignore without thinking) it can be annoying for those in rural areas. As wind farms are more likely to be erected in rural areas – where the general noise level is much lower than cities – there have been complaints over the noise generated. The problem, however, is not considered to be substantial.

The physical health concerns are far more rare, and generally centre around the low-threshold noise produced by wind turbines. Continued exposure to very low noise can upset the inner ear and cause problems such as headaches, but there is no reputable study that has proven wind farms are the cause of this.

When wind turbines are erected, they do pose a minor danger to those living near by. If a brake on a turbine fails, the turbine can have blades spin loose and scatter. For this reason, turbines are constantly monitored and if one appears to be in trouble, all efforts will be made to close it down before a problem occurs.

The Benefits of Wind Energy

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

Wind turbines – white structures with three or more blades which are used to generate electricity from the wind – are one of the most efficient methods of generating renewable energy. This is simple fact, and the continued development and licencing of turbines is further testament to this.

The reason for this general opinion is that, when one views the statistics, wind turbines are powerfully useful. For example, with older energy generation techniques such as using fossil fuels, to generate electricity one must use some of the earth’s natural resources. In the case of fossil fuels, these one day will run out.

Wind turbines have no effect on the earth’s composition and do not need to dig into anything to be able to generate. They take nothing from the earth as an organism, and this makes them a mighty weapon in the battle against climate change.

Wind turbines do not produce any emissions, be it carbon dioxide – the cause of climate change – or other such chemicals which may be harmful. Though the construction of a wind farm or turbine requires electricity and source material, it is estimated it takes a mere nine months for a single wind turbine to ‘pay back’ what is has taken out. What is more, after that initial nine months pay back time, wind turbines do not require anything but the wind to operate.

The biggest benefit of wind turbines, however, is that they take a natural source and make it useful. The wind blows everywhere in the world, and all wind turbines do is take the previously unused kinetic energy of natural weather phenomenon and create usable electricity.

Put simply, the benefits of wind turbines and wind power are overwhelmingly convincing.

What is a Wind Turbine?

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Wind And Solar Energy

Dotted across landscapes throughout the world, one can now see small, stick-thin structures with three spokes poking out from the central column. These structures are alarming, and almost sinister, the first time you see them. The world now recognises them as wind turbines, and their presence in the modern world is becoming more apparent.

Wind turbines are man’s primary way of generating electricity using the power of the wind. The versions of wind turbines we see now are merely an extension of an old idea; using the wind for power is no new concept. What is new is using the wind to generate electricity.

In the past, farmers would use windmills – the forerunner to the wind turbine, which in design they closely resemble – to power machinery to grind corn. These windmills can still be seen around the world, with Holland a well known location for windmills. The white structures we see across fields today are simply the 21st century version.

Wind turbines usually have three spokes, which when caught by the wind cause the mechanism to revolve. The spokes spin around driven by the force of the wind, and this in turn is used to power a machine – just like the windmills of old. However, the machines these turbines now power do not grind crops, but rather generate electricity through a traditional generator.

Wind turbines are one of the most – if not the most – effective ways of generating electricity. The energy produces is clean and, more importantly, renewable. So while these turbines may still cause mild shock when viewed in a place one did not expect them, they are nevertheless the future.

The Disadvantages of Solar Power

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

We all constantly hear how good solar power is, but one cannot present a convincing argument without looking at both sides of the story. While solar power has many benefits, it also has its drawbacks.

The first is also the most obvious. Namely, that the sun does not always shine. While cool weather and overcast days do not cause solar panels to stop functioning entirely, such conditions will reduce their output. For this reason alone, the likelihood of solar power being the only solution to the energy crisis of the future is slim. It is simply not possible, even in the hottest regions, to depend on solar energy entirely for a country’s electricity supply.

This is an important consideration, but not one that is particularly dominant if you are merely thinking of having solar panels installed on your roof. In the average home owners case, the demands on your solar panels will be far less than an entire country could generate. You will not be expecting it to power your home entirely forevermore, so providing you acknowledge the possible limitations of solar panels during the coldest and wettest months, you should be able to get by.

The other important disadvantage of solar power is the cost. Again using the idea of an average home owner; the installation of panels and conversion of your energy sources is a time consuming and costly process. While you will eventually recoup any investment by saving on your usual utility bills, for many the up front costs are prohibitive.

However, while these considerations are not small, they do not mean that solar power is not one of the most viable ways of generating renewable energy. The sun is our greatest resource, and it is somewhat surprising it has taken until now for us to utilise it fully.

Solar Power: Expensive, But Worth It

August 24, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

You may have noticed that over recent years, more and more companies are springing up and advertising solar panels. This, in turn, has lead to more people installing solar panels on their homes – so you may be wondering if this is the move for you.

Having solar panels fitted to your roof is expensive, no doubt about it. The installation varies from $4000 to $60,000. The difference depends on the size of your house, your requirements from the panels themselves and how much electricity you are hoping to generate. In basic terms, the larger the panels and the more you want – the bigger your bill, though even a basic system can be tough on the wallet.

Firstly, most solar panel installation companies will offer some form of credit – perhaps even ‘buy now pay later’ type deals, which allow you to suspend repayments for a year or more. Almost all will offer a traditional credit scheme, where you have the panels installed and then pay them off. This is one of the most expensive ways to get solar panels installed, as you will be charged for the credit, but nevertheless it is an option.

The best way option for most is to save a dedicated fund for their solar panels. Using the old school system of putting a little money by each week, many households can afford solar panels within a couple of years without having to pay credit purchase rates.

Whichever way you choose to do it, solar panels are expensive. There isn’t any way of getting around that, though as the technology improves prices should fall. It is always worth remember, however, that solar power is beneficial both to your wallet in the long run, and to the environment.

Next Page »