Clean Energy, Wind Energy and What it All Means
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Robert Swan
The demands on our planet are constantly growing as the global population continues to increase (by about 80 million people per year!), and the need for clean and renewable energy sources is becoming more and more urgent.
At Air Innovations, we believe there is a pressing need to turn to more clean, green, renewable and sustainable forms of energy. The good news is that there is so much hope and opportunity, and it is all rooted in the concept of clean and sustainable wind energy.
What is Clean Energy?
Clean energy is just that: clean.
It is energy that is produced and used without damaging the environment – the focus being on releasing little to no harmful carbon emissions (contrary to non-renewable energy sources). It is simply clean, sustainable, and safe energy.
Renewable energy is different from clean energy in that it focuses on re-using the resource that provides the energy. They are both important in the drive to save the planet for future generations, that’s for sure!
It all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, the biggest hurdle in the game of clean energy is the cost of the technology involved. The good news is that as time passes and developments are made and refined in the relevant technologies, clean energy is becoming more and more accessible and affordable!
There are various types of clean energy
- Solar power – energy from the sun used for heating homes and water
- Geothermal – uses the underground temperature of the earth to heat or cool homes
- Ocean energy – energy from the tides and waves
- Hydropower – energy from the movement of water; e.g. floodgates of dams
- Wind energy – energy from the movement of air
Let’s open the window on wind energy, take a closer look and understand it better. After all, who knows how long it’ll be before we all have a snazzy wind turbine in our backyard and lowered electricity bills?
What is Wind Energy?
Man has harnessed the power of the wind for centuries, and the most primitive example of that is the sails of a sailing ship.
According to the article “History of Wind Energy” published by the Wind Energy Foundation, “Since early recorded history, people have harnessed the energy of the wind. Wind energy propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C. By 200 B.C., simple windmills in China were pumping water, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East.”
Without wind energy, the world as we know it might not have been discovered!
What is Wind?
To fully understand wind energy, we need to understand the wind itself and where it comes from. For those of us who didn't study geography in high school, this isn't a silly question.
Simply put, as the sun beats down on the earth, the land and the oceans warm up – but the land heats up much faster than the ocean. Hot air above the ground rises and cooler air above the water sinks. As the hot air rises above the land, it draws in the cooler air off the ocean and voila, the movement of air – wind!
That's why it's best to enjoy the beach early in the morning before the sand heats up and the wind picks up! And that’s also why wind energy is actually a form of solar energy – wow!
There are other factors that contribute to global winds such as the uneven surface of the earth and the changing distance of the earth from the sun throughout the year.
How do Wind Turbines Work?
For years and years, people have been harnessing the power of the wind using those quaint windmills you see in postcards – they were used to mill grain or pump water (sometimes both!) by converting wind energy into rotational, mechanical energy.
Now, thanks to technology and the need for clean energy, wind turbines are the modern-day approach to capturing wind energy and converting it into electrical energy.
Wind turbines work like fans in reverse.
Two or three massive blades (up to 116-ft long) of the wind turbine turn as the wind moves across them, and this movement rotates a horizontal shaft that is connected to a generator. This process produces electrical energy which can then be used by an establishment, and the excess can be sold to the electrical grid for use by others.
To sum it up, the heat of the sun causes the wind, the movement of the wind (kinetic energy) is converted to mechanical energy (the rotating shaft), and this mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy (via the generator) – all thanks to the wind turbine.
As long as the sun continues to shine down upon the earth, wind turbines will be able to produce electricity – clean, sustainable electricity
What are Wind Farms?
Wind farms are areas where multiple large-scale turbines (more than 300-ft tall) are grouped together in an optimal arrangement to produce a bulk amount of electricity. The larger the turbine, the more efficient and cost-effective the technology is, and the more electricity can be supplied to the electrical grid.
Keep in mind that one large-scale turbine can produce several megawatts of power!
Wind farms are located in areas where there is a lot of wind (you knew that!), either on land or large bodies of water – on lakes or in the ocean.
Offshore wind turbines can be larger (and therefore provide more power) because they can be easily transported by ship – which is more manageable than land transport when dealing with such large-scale turbines. Because of this, offshore wind farms are becoming more popular than wind farms on land.
The Advantages of Wind Energy
There are so many reasons that make investing in wind energy a great way to invest in the future of our planet! Here are just a few to help you understand the value of the wind as an energy source.
1. Wind Power is Clean Power
Undoubtedly, the best part of wind turbine technology is that it does little to no harm to the earth.
There are no exhaust fumes, harmful emissions or waste produced when a wind turbine produces electricity – it is clean, renewable and sustainable. While manufacturing the turbines does require electrical energy, each turbine will go on to provide much more than it took to make it!
2. Wind Energy is Sustainable
Not only do wind turbines produce green energy, but they also lower the demand on non-renewable sources like fossil fuels. This helps the earth and the pockets of its inhabitants by allowing the price of electricity to be lowered even when the population continues to increase. Wind energy is renewable, sustainable and eco-friendly!
3. Wind Farms are Cool
Wind farms do take up a bit of space, but when they're combined with agricultural applications (farms and fields) nobody loses out.
Their design is classy, sleek and modern. Some people may not like how they look, but it’s worth noting that the French people didn’t like the Eiffel Tower to begin with and now it’s their beloved national icon – feelings change!
4. Wind Power is Everywhere
Wind is everywhere, and according to scientists, the wind on the earth has the potential to provide 400 terawatts of power (400 trillion watts). The current power usage of the global population is only 18 terawatts; that means that wind energy alone could easily provide enough power for the entire world’s population for centuries to come - wow!
5. Wind Energy is Accessible
In the same way that people have solar panels installed on their roofs, many families have a small-scale wind turbine in their backyard. As wind energy technology becomes more and more affordable, it's worth considering. Lowered electricity bills, a power source during black-outs (yes!), and knowing that you’re doing your bit to save the planet are great reasons to consider having one installed.
On top of that, low maintenance costs and only a little space requirement makes this technology manageable and accessible to everyone – especially those in windy areas!
There is so much potential wrapped up in this technology for us and for the generations to come. The more we learn and understand, the more we realize that the future may well rest on this worthy source of energy and the willing minds of those who can implement it. Air Innovations looks forward to the future and can’t wait to see what new forms of clean and green energy awaits our future generations!