Wind Turbines: An Outlook

Wind Turbines: An Outlook

            Wind turbines, a form of renewable energy could be considered for pumped storage hydroelectricity.  Unlike other non-renewable energy sources, wind turbines depend on wind power to generate electricity. However, to harness the power of the wind successfully, one must understand the operating principles, analyze its parts as well as compare the differences between different models.

            First of all, one needs to analyze the parts of the wind turbine to successfully harness its power and possibly come up with the new design. The entire mechanism of the wind turbine rest several feet above the ground. On top of the tower are motor driven blades called propellers. These propellers average about hundred to two hundred feet. Aligned with the propellers are rotors. This semicircular tube is attached to the front of the propellers. Connected to the propellers, again is a long hollow tube called the horizontal shaft. This low speed shaft connects the rotor with the gearbox and the generator. The generator, an important component of the entire system is in form of a closed unit inside the turbine. The turbine of the wind mill is essentially a fiberglass box that acts as a housing unit for the generator, horizontal shaft and other parts on top of the tower except propeller and the rotor. All these parts operate together as a unit to perform the job of a wind turbine which is responsible for producing electricity.

            The operating principle of a standard wind turbine is an essential concept to understand for anyone concerned with wind turbine technology. First of all, the motor driven blades in the propeller catch the wind through their airfoils. Once, wind passes over the propellers, they produce a force which is perpendicular to the blades to make them rotate. Then, as the rotor in front of the propeller rotates, the blade spins. Next, the horizontal shaft connected to the rotor spins alongside the rotor. Finally, the shaft cranks the generator to generate electricity. Thus the operating principle of the turbine is an essential concept to understand for those concerned with the turbine technology as these principles become more complicated with innovations in turbine design to produce newer prototypes.

            Last of all, one needs to be able to compare and contrast the differences between different models and prototypes of wind turbine that come with innovations in technology. Compared to large wind turbines that get disabled or destroyed by strong winds, the newer prototypes have flexible hinged blades that withstand any kind of storm. Unlike the standard models whose blades bend back, the newer prototypes have hinged blades in downwind direction to avoid slamming in to the tower. In comparison with standard models, the newer prototypes have hydraulic dampers that flex and shed excess wind force making them lighter and cheaper. Also, they have breaks to slow down blade spin and a yaw drive to counteract swiveling which is not the case in a standard turbine. Standard turbines wear out fast and come with a limited warranty, however newer prototypes have sensors in each of their components to detect wear and tear as well as backup systems for electronics failure. Thus, newer prototypes differ from standard turbines as newer components are added to make them lighter, cheaper and more efficient.

In conclusion, to harness the power of the wind successfully, one must understand the operating principles, analyze its parts as well as compare the differences between different models. When used for energy storage systems such as pumped storage hydroelectricity, these turbines could greatly increase the capacity of hydroelectric dams to supply during peak power demand without losing any energy pumping water from low level to high level reservoir. As for residential applications, there is Vertical axis wind turbines which has a slightly different operating principle. “Vertical axis wind turbines are less affected by frequent wind direction changes as  compared to the horizontal axis wind turbines due to the blades being rotated on the rotor shaft perpendicular to the ground. With the blades and shaft installed in this way, the turbine does not need to rotate to track wind direction. The shaft is mounted near ground level due to the difficulties of mounting the shaft and its components on the tower. An advantage of being mounted at ground level is that maintenance of the turbine is easier and can be installed at locations such as rooftops. Disadvantages to this turbine installation is that the efficiency is lower due to air drag and the lower wind speeds compared to the higher wind speeds encountered at higher elevations” There are manufacturers in Canada and elsewhere that might even sell a turbine fit for the fit/micro fit government supported program.

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