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Introduction to wind energy

Wind energy is power derived from the wind, and it is used to generate electricity. It is one of the fastest growing methods of generating electricity across the globe due to it being highly efficient, reliable, and totally renewable.

Wind Energy would be the ideal method of providing energy to the island for various reasons. Following is a table listing some of the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy:

  • Wind energy is completely
    renewable; as long as the
    wind blows, the turbines
    can produce electricity
  • The production of electricity
    using wind energy produces
    no harmful airborne/water
  • Wind energy brings in
    additional revenue to farmers
    who lease their land for wind
    turbines to be built there
  • Wind energy supports the
    economy; in 2006, the industry
    contributed $1.6 billion to the
    Canadian GDP
  • The turbines are seen as an
    eyesore to some of the residents
    living in the area where they are
  • The turbines sometimes kill birds
    when they fly into them
  • There is no set amount of
    electricity produced since the
    wind doesn't always
    blow at a
    constant rate
As you can see, the advantages are many, and they counter balance the disadvantages of wind energy quite easily. However, there are many more advantages to wind energy than listed above; the table just lightly scratches the surface on the many positive aspects of wind energy.

History of wind energy

People have been using the wind as a source of power for thousands of years; from using it as a means of transportation (the sails on a ship are blown by the wind, and pull the ship in the desired direction, allowing it to move), to utilizing it to help us create food (windmills were in great usage during the Middle Ages for pumping water, and they were also widely used to grind grain. Furthermore, in Canada, windmills were widely used on farmlands in rural areas to pump water as well as generate electricity for the farmhouse.). As you can see, people have been relying on wind energy for a very long time!

A boat with a sail

A windmill

How is wind created?

As you know by now, wind energy is energy that is captured from moving air. However, you may find yourself asking "how is wind created in the first place?". Well, the answer is ultimately "due to the Sun", but to be more specific, the Sun heats our planet up to different temperatures in different places at different times. Thus, the distribution of heat is unbalanced and unequal. This is what creates the wind, as the warm air rises up towards the atmosphere, leaving a void, the cooler air will rush down to try and fill said void. The wind is the ongoing movement of this air.

Well, how is wind energy created?

We all know wind energy is created by turbines that generate electricity, but how does it all work? Well, the turbines have larges blades which are attached to a horizontal shaft on the top of a tall tower. As the wind blows, the blades on the turbine move, which in turn, causes the shaft to rotate. The shaft is attached to a generator inside the head of the turbine, which generates electricity as the shaft turns. The generator is attached to wires, which run down the length of the tower, and pass the electricity generated off to transmission lines which will carry the electricity off to the community. For a more in-depth analysis of how wind energy is created, please view the embedded video:

Why wind energy over any source of electricity?

Still skeptical on wind energy? You maybe saying "well that's all nice, but why exactly, is wind energy right for me?". Well, as you know, people have been relying on the wind for thousands of years to get around and to create food, as well as generate electricity. Also, the installation of wind turbines is relatively quick, compared to the facilities that must be built to generate other forms of electricity. Furthermore, with wind energy there is absolutely NO pollution created, only 100% clean electricity. "Well, yeah, it's renewable, but the turbines kill birds! And it must be expensive right? Oh, and it's not 100% efficient!" Yes, wind energy is renewable, and the turbines may kill birds, but that is not the turbine's fault; it's the bird's fault for flying into the blades. Wind energy is also relatively cheaper than other popular forms of renewable energy such as hydro power and considerably cheaper compared to solar power. In addition, unlike hydroelectricity which floods a large amount of land, wind energy completely preserves water supplies, and can be used almost anywhere; turbines can be built on land or at sea, and are compatible with other land uses.

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