Wind Power around the World
The interest in wind power re-merged as a consequence of steep rising price in oil, which at the period was the most common energy source. This time, the main focus of wind power was providing electrical energy instead of mechanical energy thus offering a reliable and consistent power source (Grubb and Meyer 24). At the beginning of the 20th century, the first wind turbines were developed for electricity generation (Wright and Fingersh). The technology improved steadily and by the end of the early 1990, wind energy had emerged as one of the most sustainable renewable energy sources. In the last decade of the 20th century, worldwide wind capacity has doubled approximately every 4 years with many experts predicting that the cumulative capacity will grow on a global scale of about 25 percent per year (Wright and Fingersh).
Modern turbines are either horizontal-axis or vertical-axis machines with each type having both advantages and disadvantages. Both types are commercially available although the most predominant is the horizontal-axis turbine that consists of two or three blades (Kaygusuz and Kaygusuz 427). As the wind blows through the three propeller blades specifically arranged in a horizontal manner, wind power turns the blades of a turbine in turn facilitating the entire fan rotation. The speed of the fan is generally slow and in order to output faster speed a gearbox is used. The turbines turns the generator, which converts mechanical energy into electricity energy (Grubb and Meyer 24). This technique is labor intensive and quality is difficult to control. Substantial gains can potentially be made by using automated techniques.
The life of a utility-quality turbine with good maintenance is about 30 years, with the blades having a projected life of about 15 years, which necessitates a replacement of blades during the turbine life (Baharin et al. Researchers in aerodynamics are generating better field data to provide an enhanced understanding of the basic phenomena by conducting wind-tunnel test. Additionally, there is significant interactions among universities, industry, and foreign researchers in the area of fundamental aerodynamics (Walker and Jenkins). The use of multiple wind plant sites within a region, especially where the correlation between windiness at sites is understood, can potentially result in a situation in which the output of one wind plant can increase when the output of another because of wind fluctuations.
Accurate forecasting can significantly enhance the value of wind generated electricity (Ackermann and Laurence 10). Energy storage is an important technical challenge that could enhance the dispatchability of wind plants. A recent investigation indicated that for utility applications, pumped hydro energy storage is most cost-effective. When storage is integrated with wind plants, the value of wind-generated electricity will probably be much greater than the current value, which for most utility applications in the world is presently considered equal to the avoided fuel cost (Ackermann and Laurence 8). Wind energy has the potential to play an important role in the future energy supply in many areas of the world. Within the last ten years, wind turbine technology has reached a very reliable and sophisticated level.
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