Steps to Harnessing Wind Power
wind powerThe basic functioning of a wind turbine is to convert kinetic energy obtained from the wind into mechanical energy that can be used for driving a generator that generates electricity. Compared to any European country, the UK generates more Wind Power. Here, the large-scale farms of wind turbine, both offshore and onshore are considered to turn into major suppliers of electricity in the next couple of decades.
As per the latest figures, there are more than 280 wind farms in the UK which are connected to the grid. This consists of more than 3,100 wind turbines having a Wind Power capacity of more than 5,200 MW. Here are 5 steps given towards understanding and taking the steps to switch to small scale wind energy system in your home.
1. Understanding Types of Wind Turbines
There are two types of wind turbines:
• Horizontal axis
• Vertical axis
Horizontal Axis Turbines : This type of wind turbines are more commonly recognised as the typical windmill type. In this wind turbine, the blades rotate along a vertical plane with a horizontal axis. The turbine rotates dynamically on the tower facing the wind.
Vertical Axis Turbines : This type of wind turbines are designed to generate Wind Power without being oriented into the wind. The old versions, also called eggbeater wind turbines had to be powered by an external source in order to start the rotation as they had huge amount of torque. However, the modern designs are fitted with helical blades having low amount of torque and they can start rotating without an external source. Since these wind turbines have a small impact on the environment and don’t cause any noise, they are best suited for small amount of Wind Power generation. These types of wind turbines have not yet been able to match the 5 MW plus capacity of the horizontal axis turbines.
2. Understanding Commercial Onshore Wind Power
Today, the large-scale wind turbines are designed with rotors having diameters more than 100 m, the height of the tower being more than 300 ft and the entire structure can weigh several hundred tonnes. Such type of projects need huge amount of investments along with long period for the approval of planning. The different considerations and process can include:
• Assessment of impact on environment
• Local consultation
And, many other factors that can vary from one are to another.
The generators of electricity in the country are looking at the increasing financial incentives to invest in the generation of wind energy. The UK government has already placed a requirement where all the power suppliers in the country have to increase their proportion of power generated from renewable sources including Wind Power. The present proportion is 7.9% which has been raised to 20% by the government by the year 2020.
3. Understanding Commercial Offshore Wind Power Projects
UK has been gifted with a larger shallow continental shelf compared to other neighbouring countries. This makes the sea around the UK coasts more suitable for offshore installation of Wind Power projects.
The development of offshore Wind Power projects has several advantages over onshore wind turbine projects.
• It allows to bring many more sites into play
• It minimises the impact on the environment
• The planning process is short
• It improves the efficiency of the turbines because of lesser turbulence in the flow of wind over the surface of sea
However, there are some disadvantages as well:
• The cost of construction is higher
• Undersea cabling increases the cost of connecting to the grid
• Requires costly components to counter the corrosive action of the salty sea-water
• The cost of maintenance is higher
However, installation of offshore Wind Power projects is a viable option.
One of the best examples of an offshore Wind Power project is the London Array, which is a joint venture between Shell Wind Energy Ltd., CORE Ltd. and E.ON UK Renewables. It is considered by industry experts that the next decade is going to see development of many wind energy farms in the seas of the country, capable of powering all its 25 million homes.
One of the major developments in offshore Wind Power generation took place in year 2007 when the Energy Secretary announced the opening up of the UK seas to as much as 33 GW of wind energy.
4. Understanding Small Scale Wind Turbines
This type of wind turbines are especially suitable for off grid, combined and mobile PV and wind applications. The reason for Wind Power and PV combination is:
• Winters – When Wind Power is available and solar power is minimum
• Summers – When solar power is abundant and Wind Power is minimum
Due to this reason this system is more reliable than any one of the renewable energy sources.
Small-scale wind turbines are mostly used for charging batteries that runs small applications, especially in remote areas, boats or on caravans. The best examples are:
• Electric fencing
• Sensing equipment
• Electric pumps
• Road signage
The size of these Wind Power turbines can vary in size. While some models are available under 100 W, others are available at 50 kW.
• Under 100 W – The smallest turbines are mostly used for charging batteries of size 12 V or 24 V, which are used for stand-alone applications.
• More than 0.5 kW – The larger turbines can be to generate electricity from Wind Power for single houses or even businesses. The rooftop models can generate from 0.5 to 2.5 kW of power.
5. Grid Connection
When you want to install a Wind Power system connected to the grid, permission will have to be taken from your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). The DNO runs the distribution network specific to your local area. This may or may not be the electricity supplier. The policies vary from one DNO to another when it is about connecting wind energy systems to their network. You can find your DNO by visiting the website of the British Photovoltaic Association. You can also download the application form for the permission.
When you generate Wind Power, an inverter would be required to convert the direct current (DC) which is generally low-voltage into alternating current (AC) of high voltage.
The Low Carbon Buildings Programme from the government is going to provide you the grant for generating Wind Power using small scale systems.