Wind-powered energy is a source of electrical power that is friendly to the environment, clean and completely inexhaustible. Wind power is actually simply another form of solar energy, because wind is created by the sun’s uneven heating of the atmosphere on Earth. The earth’s rotation and its surface irregularities are responsible for moderating wind power. There are many factors which go into affecting the flow patterns of the wind, including the terrain, bodies of water and even vegetation. Luckily, thanks to the great invention of the wind turbine, the energy produced by the wind can now be harnessed and used to create electricity and power to save on purchasing electricity from over-priced non-renewable utility company energy sources.
A turbine essentially works in the way that a fan does, if the fan were to be operating in reverse. Instead of the electricity being in charge of spinning the blades to generate wind, the wind is responsible for spinning the blades which generates the electricity. A wind turbine operates by having the blades spun by the wind, the blades spinning a shaft, and the shaft connecting to a generator which is responsible for producing the energy.
There are two basic types of wind turbines, a horizontal axis wind turbine and vertical axis wind turbines. Horizontal axis wind turbines are the most commonly used wind turbines today. These turbines are also available in two different forms, the two-blade horizontal axis wind turbine which spins downward, and the 3-blade horizontal axis wind turbine which spins upwards. The power generating capacity of the wind turbine is influenced by its size. Smaller turbines can produce 50 kilowatts or less, and are typically used for the powering of homes, telecom dishes and even water pumps. Many people are now combining these smaller wind turbines with solar systems and photovoltaic cells to create on-demand power sources in places that are off the grid.
In general, these wind turbines are used to create a supplemental source of power for locations that are already utilizing local utility power or on-the-grid power. There are many situations where a wind turbine simply will not provide an output, so it is often necessary for residential areas to derive their power from a utility grid. Above seven to ten miles per hour of wind and the wind turbines will kick in, reducing the power supply of the grid significantly. When excess power is created by wind turbines, the extra produced output is sold back to the public utility company, reducing the energy cost of a single resident by as much as fifty to ninety percent. Depending on the amount of energy a typical residence uses, typically a small 5-15 kilowatt wind turbine is all that is needed. These systems are generally only effective in areas where the average wind speed is more than ten miles per hour, and where at least ten cents is paid per kilowatt hour. Larger wind turbine systems have much higher capacities, but they tend to be much more expensive to install and are only effective in situations where all or most of the produced energy can be used effectively.