Wind Turbines

Wind energy is of real interest to landowners in the UK because it is a plentiful and renewable resource and is supported by the government via the Renewables Obligation. As such, it provides a means to make a profitable contribution to greenhouse gas reduction. In the UK we have an energy regulator called Ofgem

The UK has higher wind speeds, for longer periods than most of the EU, so utilising this free energy source makes sense in areas where it can be done economically and with mininimal environmental impact. Wind turbine technology now enables energy capture on a small scale but it is more economic when done on a large scale.

RenewableUK is the UK's leading renewable energy trade association, which exists to support the development of UK wind & marine energy.

UK Government Policy

With climate change being one of the biggest issues facing the world, UK government policy is committed to reducing the rate of human impact on climate change. Under various agreements (including Kyoto), the government plans to replace 20% of all energy supplies with renewables by 2020. Electricity generation currently accounts for approximately 23% of all the power used in the UK. Only about 6% of the current supply is from renewable resources and new nuclear power plants are at least 10 years away from coming on line.

Although the UK has quite a lot of coal, this will not help meet planned targets. Gas produces significantly less CO2 but the UK is now a net importer of gas. Supplies from other countries have proved to be politically vunerable in the past few years and this is unlikely to change. As such, renewable energy is likely to be the most secure and reliable alternative for the UK.

Scale Of Generation

An electric fire rated at one kilowatt (kW) uses 1kW per hour (kWh). A small scale wind turbine rated at 5kW will generate this amount of power per hour (5kWh) when the wind is blowing at the optimum speed for its design. A large, modern onshore wind turbine will generate 1,500kWh (1.5MWh) when the wind speed is optimum.

At the other end of the spectrum, small wind turbines such as those used on yachts generate around 90 to 400W at 12v dc.

A slightly larger turbine on a 15m might be rated at around 6kW and in the right conditions could meet the needs of the average house. 20 years ago the first commercial turbines were rates at 600kW and were mounted on masts as tall as 40m.The average windfarm in the UK is 11 turbines with a rated capacity of 1.4MW mounted on masts around 80m tall. Such a wind farm would meet the electricty needs of 10,000 homes, approximately 40,000MW, but always when needed.

Environmental Impact

Whilst everyone agrees that wind turbines have enviromental impacts, there are also lots of examples of abuse of statistics. Wind farms kill fewer birds than cats, power lines, roads or windows but, this doesn't often get mentioned.

Innovation

Boulder Wind Power
Boulder Wind Power is introducing next-generation utility-scale permanent magnet generator technology that will dramatically reduce the cost of wind generated electricity. Their direct drive generator design is a radical improvement over alternative geared and direct drive systems, being light, simple, efficient, highly reliable and inexpensive to maintain.

They have engineered a generator that incorporates a circuit board design as one of its main components. In a typical generator today, the rotor and the stator are made with iron wrapped with copper coils. Boulder Wind Power has engineered stator by printing copper wires on to fiber-glass and laminating layers of fiber-glass together to create a stator that looks and works like a printed circuit board.

Eole water generating wind turbine
The Eole wind turbine harvests both electricity and clean water from the air, by condensing humidity from even the driest of climates. A prototype turbine is collecting 16.3 gallons of water an hour from the desert air over Abu Dhabi, according to the company that builds it.

atmospheric vortex engine
An atmospheric vortex engine (AVE) uses a controlled vortex to capture mechanical energy produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere. A tornado-like vortex is produced by admitting warm or humid air tangentially into a circular arena. Tangential entries cause the warm moist air to spin as it rises forming an anchored convective vortex. The work of convection is captured with turbines located at ground level around the periphery of the arena. The heat source can be solar energy, warm water or waste heat.

The vortex engine has the same thermodynamic basis as the proven solar chimney except the physical tube of the solar chimney is replaced with centrifugal force. There is no need for a solar collector - The solar collector is the earths surface in its unaltered state.

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