Wind comes from atmospheric changes; changes in temperature and pressure makes the air move around the surface of the earth; all of which is triggered by the sun. So in a way, wind energy is another form of solar power. A wind turbine captures the wind to produce energy. The wind makes the rotor spin; as the rotor spins, the movement of the blades spinning gives power to a generator which makes energy. The motion of the wind turbine turning is called kinetic energy, this power is converted into electricity.
Converting wind into electricity
Wind power is converted into electricity by magnets moving past stationary coils of wire known as the stator. As the magnets pass the stator, AC electricity is produced. It is then converted into DC electricity which can be used to charge batteries which store the electrical energy or can also be fed into a grid interactive inverter for feeding power into the electricity grid.
Wind power benefits
Wind power is a clean energy source that can be relied on for the long-term future. A wind turbine creates reliable, cost-effective, pollution free energy. It is affordable, clean and sustainable. One wind turbine can be sufficient to generate energy for a household. Because wind is a source of energy which is non-polluting and renewable, wind turbines create power without using fossil fuels, without producing greenhouse gases or radioactive or toxic waste. Wind power reduces global warming.
Wind turbine suitability
Wind turbines can be installed on properties, on boats, or caravans. Getting a wind turbine depends entirely on the amount of wind generated in your area. The first thing you need to do is to find out the average speed in your region.
The average wind speed needs to be above 5m/s (18km per hour) to make installing a wind turbine worthwhile. Ideal locations for wind turbines are in the country, on farms, or on the coast: basically anywhere away from built-up areas. The more buildings around the wind turbine, the less wind there is.
Setting up a wind turbine is a big undertaking that takes time but it can be a very cost effective way of creating power as long as the average wind speed is high enough. In certain cases, installing a wind turbine can be even better than installing solar panels because it can create more energy!
Before investing in a wind turbine system, consult with a wind energy professional who will be able to tell you if the winds in your area make it a worthwhile purchase, any renewable energy rebates that may be applicable and also the best turbine and accessories to suit your needs.
Michael Bloch is a consultant for Energy Matters - Wind and Solar Power Australia - a green energy equipment company offering a wide range of discounted solar panels, deep cycle batteries, wind turbines and associated accessories for residential, businesses and schools. The Energy Matters site contains a wide range of resources; including a solar power system builder tool, renewable energy rebates information and free advice on off grid and grid connect solar and wind power systems.