In recent years, mankind has been using up non-renewable sources of energy at an ever-increasing speed. Our daily lives run on a gamut of gadgets, all of which require electricity to function. Is it any wonder then that an energy crisis is staring in the face of the human race, an energy crisis of a magnitude that is difficult to even contemplate?
Pair that with the escalating rate of greenhouse gases in the environment and the looming spectre of global warming, and you have a recipe for disaster.
So, before we are all starved of electricity or drowned in the deluge from the melting polar ice caps, it’s time we did something about it, didn’t we?
But, what is the way out of this conundrum?
Well, there’s only way to go- go green with a vengeance! Yes, clean sources of energy are the way ahead to bail us out of this self-made mess. Solar, wind, tidal, hydro, bio- these sources of energy are the ones that will effectively help us tide over the impending crisis, as well as restore some semblance of sanity to the environmental insanity of the past century.
Let us understand the specifics of one of these clean sources of energy, i.e. wind energy-
What is Wind Energy?
The large mass of moving air is known as wind. Due to its motion, wind has kinetic energy. This kinetic energy in wind is known as wind energy.
From ancient times, mankind has harnessed wind energy for a variety of uses- for propelling sail boats in rivers, oceans and seas, in wind-mills to draw water and grind grains, and in moving vehicles for transportation.
Then, man discovered a way to develop this free, abundant and clean source of energy for harnessing usable electricity, the kind that could power our homes, our gadgets and our industries.
How is Electricity Generated from Wind Energy?
Wind energy is converted into electricity by making use of a windmill or wind turbine to drive a wind generator.
A wind generator consists of an electric dynamo which is placed on top of a pillar. The armature of the dynamo is connected to the shaft that is attached to the blades of a windmill or turbine, as it is called in technical terms. When wind blows, it strikes the blades of the wind turbine. The kinetic energy present in the wind converts into rotational kinetic energy of the blades of the turbine.
The rotating turbine blades rotate the armature of the electric dynamo within the magnetic field of the strong magnet in the dynamo. This generates an alternating electromotive force (e.m.f) in the two terminals of the dynamo, which can then be collected in a power grid, to be supplied to consumers.
A large number of such turbines are set up over a huge area, called a wind farm. The electric power generator by each turbine is combined together in a connected power grid, and supplied as required.
Advantages of Wind Energy-
- It is abundantly available, is free and everlasting.
- It does not give rise to pollution.
Disadvantages of Wind Energy-
- Wind farms can be set up only in coastal areas or mountain tops, where wind blows at optimum speeds.
- A large area is required to set up a wind farm.
- Electricity generated from wind energy works out to be more expensive than conventional sources of electricity.
These hitches notwithstanding, governments of several countries are working towards making their countries completely reliable on wind energy and other green, renewable sources of energy.
Denmark, Scotland, China, Germany, Canada, Spain, USA, UK, France, Italy and Brazil are some of the countries that harness the power of the wind on a large scale.
India too is catching up, and by 2020, hopes to generate 65,000 megawatts of electricity through wind energy.