What is the operation of a wind turbine? How important is it in wind towers? This article will answer these questions.
When traveling by road, you have surely come across a wind farm. Have you ever wondered how they work? If you are curious to know its details, keep reading.
The importance of wind blades
Throughout history, there have been many types of turbines or machines that have been used to harness the kinetic energy produced by the wind. Of all of them, the most used and widespread nowadays is the one with three blades. It is the most efficient option because having fewer blades achieves a better balance.
The orientation of the wind turbine
Wind turbines are always oriented in the same direction so that they can follow the wind and take advantage of its potential energy. This is achieved thanks to a weather vane that they have on the top of the gondola.
The work of the wind
Sometimes it is difficult to imagine how the blades of a wind turbine are capable of being moved by a wind with normal characteristics. The reason is due to the so-called aerodynamic profile: when the wind blows perpendicular to them, a lift force is generated that causes movement.
Wind blade materials
Most blades are made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester or epoxy. Carbon fiber or aramid (Kevlar) is also used as a reinforcement material. The possible use of wood composites, such as wood-epoxy or wood-fiber-epoxy, is currently being investigated.
Parts that make up a wind turbine
For the correct operation of a wind turbine, these are the parts that we must take into account:
- It is attached to the main shaft for rotation transmission, and can be divided into 3 different parts: nose, hub, blades.
- Gondola. It is the main chassis of the wind turbine, it is located at the top of the tower and inside it are the electrical and mechanical elements necessary to convert the rotation of the rotor into electrical energy.
- It is a gearbox that converts the low speed of rotation and high power of the main shaft into a speed of rotation suitable for the operation of the motor at the cost of power.
- The generator converts the mechanical energy produced by the rotor into electrical energy.
- Rotation and angulation system. The control systems in a wind turbine have two important tasks. The first is the maximum use of the wind force through the orientation of the rotor. The second is the protection of the wind turbine against wind speeds that could damage the installation.
- Refrigeration system. Its function is to evacuate the heat of the generator and other electrical systems together with that of all the vital parts subject to friction that due to their work, which although they are well lubricated, heating could cause their degradation and possible breakdown.
- The tower is the structure that supports the electricity-producing mechanism of the wind turbine at a certain height.
In the following link you can see an explanatory video on the operation of a wind turbine >> LINK
The history of wind energy in Europe is barely four decades old. The EU has been one of the first to bet on renewable energies and has committed itself to becoming the world leader in this field. Wind power has played an important role in this success and will be key to achieving the EU’s renewable energy targets. Wind power will help make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.
A review of the history of wind energy
The history of the wind energy industry in Europe goes back almost forty years. The first wind farm on the continent was opened in 1982 on the Greek island of Kythnos. It had five turbines with a capacity of 20 kilowatts each. Almost ten years later the first marine wind farm of the world was build off the coast of Denmark.
Middelgrunden Wind farm – Photo from Wikipedia
The industry has come a long way since then. Currently, the Fântânele-Cogealac wind farm in Romania is the largest onshore wind farm in Europe. It has 240 turbines of 2.5 megawatts. By comparison, the largest offshore wind farm in Europe, and in the world, is the Walney Extension in the UK. It has a capacity of 659 megawatts and more than 200 turbines.
In constant growth
The total installed capacity in Europe has seen steady growth over the last decade and increased to almost 200 gigawatts in 2019. Germany has the largest installed capacity in Europe, with more than 60 gigawatts.
Having experienced year-on-year growth in the last decade, in the last two years electricity generation from wind power amounted to 426 terawatt hours. With this visible increase, the wind industry is now a significant contributor to the continent’s energy mix and the most important source of renewable energy. It has recently surpassed hydroelectric power. Only nuclear power and natural gas generate more electricity.
Half of the world’s largest wind farms are in the United States. The United Kingdom, India and China are also great powers in the production of wind energy.
The demand for renewable energy is at its peak. One of the most requested renewable energy sources is wind energy, which already has more than 350,000 wind turbines around the world. These are the 10 largest wind farms in the world.
A review of the 10 largest wind farms in the world
The Jiuquan Wind Base is the largest wind farm in the world, with a planned installed capacity of 20 GW. The wind farm, also called the Gansu Wind Farm, will consist of 7,000 wind turbines, which will be installed in the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Jiuquan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hebei and Xinjiang, in Gansu (China).
Jaisalmer Wind Farm, India
The Jaisalmer wind farm tops the Indian wind farms and has a capacity of 1,600MW. The wind farm was developed by Suzlon Energy and has different wind farms developed in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, India.
Alta Wind Energy Center, United States
The Alta Wind Energy Center is located in Tehachapi, Kern County, California. The wind farm can produce 1,548MW of power, and its initial phase became operational in 2011. The other phases became operational in 2012.
Muppandal Wind farm, India
Muppandal Wind Farm, with a capacity of 1,500MW, is the largest offshore farm in India and comprises several wind farms in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu, India. Surrounding these wind farms are arid lands that have high wind speeds necessary for the operation of the turbines.
Shepherds Flat Winds, United States
The project is located near Arlington, in eastern Oregon, and produces 845MW, making it the fifth largest in the world. The project came into operation in 2009 at a cost of 2,000 million dollars.
Roscoe Wind farm, United States
This project, located in Texas (USA), has an area of 400 km² and produces 781.5 MW thanks to its 627 wind turbines. The Roscoe project was built in four phases and became operational in October 2009.
Horse Hollow Wind Power Center, United States
This wind farm is also located in Texas, United States. It has a capacity of 735.5MW and was commissioned in four stages between 2005 and 2006. It is one of the largest wind farms in the world and can power more than 180,000 homes.
Capricorn Ridge, United States
Capricorn es también otro proyecto de Texas, en Estados Unidos. La primera fase entró en funcionamiento en 2007, y la última en 2008 para producir una potencia combinada de 662,5MW.
Walney Extension Offshore, United Kingdom
This project is located in the Irish Sea and produces a wind power capacity of 659MW. It is 19km off the coast of Walney Island and covers 145km². The project supplies more than 600,000 homes in the UK and is transmitted offshore through two 4,000-tonne substations.
London Array Offshore, United Kingdom
The London Array is the largest offshore wind farm in the world and has a capacity of 630MW, making it the sixth largest wind farm in the world. It is situated on the Thames Estuary, at a distance of 20 km from the Kent and Essex coasts.
No doubt this list of the 10 largest wind farms in the world will be provisional. Given the rise of this renewable energy, other wind farms will soon emerge that will supersede the current ones.