# Roger Rivera October 28, 2002 Wind Power

In the society we live in today, many people have the misconception that there is a never-ending supply of energy available for our wasteful use. However, people must realize that the fossil fuels that we have come to depend on for our energy are quickly being depleted. There are several renewable energy resources, most of which come from the sun, that are available for our use. One of these abundant energy resources is the wind. By taking advantage of the wind, and harnessing its power to supply useful energy, people can ensure that they will have energy for as long as the sun continues to heat the earth. The wind is a direct product of the sun. The earth receives 1.74 x 10^17 Watts of power (per hour) from the sun (Tour 1). The sun causes differential heating of earth’s surface and atmosphere, inducing vertical and horizontal air currents that are affected by the rotation of the earth and the contours of the land (Ristinen 133). As the land is heated, the warm air near the surface rises into the cooler atmosphere, causing a pressure gradient between the surface and the upper atmosphere. The lower pressure near the surface causes an inward current of air (wind) from the higher-pressure surroundings. A great example of this is the Land Sea Breeze Cycle, which we feel when we step on the beach (Tour 1). As the warmer air rises into the atmosphere, the cooler air over the ocean

and this is the refreshing sea breeze we have come to expect whenever we step on the beach. Notice that the power of wind is proportional to the cubic velocity. This is true because the kinetic energy (0. When dealing with wind energy. What is difficult is increasing the efficiency of this process.5 x M x V^2) of a body in motion is proportional to V^2. The rotor area determines how much energy a wind turbine is able to 2 . Therefore. the greater the power that can be captured from the wind. the more efficient the process of converting wind energy into electrical energy will be.rushes onto the shore. people are concerned with the surface winds.1 x 10^-4 V^3 (Ristinen 134). how big the rotors are. When dealing with wind turbines. one must take into account how high it is. multiplying these two factors causes the power of wind to be proportional to the cubic velocity. About one to two percent of the energy that the earth receives from the sun is converted to wind energy (Tour 1). The process of harnessing the power of the wind is not extremely difficult. which are those that flow between the ground and about 100 meters in altitude (Wind 1). The power of wind (kW/ m^2) is equal to 6. the rotor area. The design of the wind turbine is probably the most essential part of converting wind energy to electrical energy. and the wind speed (Tour 7). The amount of energy that the wind transfers to the rotors of a wind turbine depends on the density of the air. and since the flow rate (F= A x V ) of a fluid is proportional to the velocity. and exactly how much overall area the rotors will take up. the more efficient the designs of the wind turbines and the generators are. depending on the efficiency of the wind turbine. the greater the wind speed. In general. the process of converting wind energy into electrical energy requires the use of a wind turbine and a generator. Therefore.

When planning on the size of the turbine. and since a large turbine can produce more electricity than a small turbine. 3 . one must be careful not to build a turbine too large. Also. On the other hand. In addition. a turbine that is twice as large will receive twice as much energy. Small turbines might be preferred in areas where the local electrical grids may not be able to handle the large electrical output from a large turbine. Large turbines are also suited for areas where it is difficult to find sites because one large turbine on a tall tower can use the wind extremely efficiently. thus extracting only a small amount of the power from the wind (Ristinen 135). At the other extreme. but will be able to efficiently extract a large amount of the wind’s power. large turbines can deliver electricity at a lower cost than small turbines because foundation costs and planning costs for a wind tower are independent of turbine size.harvest from the wind (Tour 7). one must be careful not to build the turbine too small. for it can disrupt the airflow through its cross section. which will not disrupt the airflow. it might be more economical in some areas to use smaller turbines. Therefore. there are times when small turbines are preferred. minimizing the power extracted from the wind (Ristinen 135). where the ocean currents and differential heating of the ocean can produce gusting winds that can produce a great amount of electricity. one must build a mid-size rotor. However. the electricity produced will cost less (Tour 7). one can choose between a large or small wind turbine. Large turbines are well suited for offshore wind plants. due to the high costs needed to make the towers taller and stronger in order to hold larger turbines. Since the rotor area increases with the square of the rotor diameter. thus reducing the effective wind velocity at its location and diverting much of the airflow around itself. reducing the wind velocity by only a small amount.