Beginners Guides:
Wind Power

A Cornish Wind Farm
By Justin Taylor

History of Wind Power
The power of the wind has been used or many thousands of years. More than 5000 years ago it was used to power boats on the river Nile. It was first used to power simple machines by the Persians who used it to grind corn. Simple cloth windmills have been used for centuries. In Crete it powered water pumps. Holland is famous for its many wooden mills.

Early Electricity Generation
For the last 100 years windmills have been used to generate electricity. However, early attempts generated only enough to power a few windmills and a wireless.

Wind Power in the 21st century
Wind power is a renewable power source and does not produce greenhouse gasses. As more and more global warming evidence of global warming is produced, world leaders are demanding that more power is produced from environmentally friendly sources. Wind power is CO2-free power production and approx 0.85 kg CO2 can be saved for every wind-produced kWh. Only 1% of the energy produced in the United Kingdom is from such sources, mostly from Hydro-Electric Power (HEP). In the UK Wind power seems the best way to increase the amount of eco-energy. In windy Cornwall in the South West of the UK, there are now many wind farms producing significant amounts of renewable energy. However, there are only so many places on land where a 'farm' can be built. They must be at a windy location and away from any settlements - people hate to live by wind farms (see offshore wind farms) because they are often thought of as ugly and noisy.

Problems of Wind Power
Wind power has many disadvantages. The first of is that wind power is so unreliable because the wind does not always blow. Sailors are often stranded for days without power. Therefore, wind power is not the complete solution to the renewable power problem. Also, farms are very capital intensive, need special locations and do not mix with humans. The other problem is that the size of propellers is limited with current materials. The energy prodced and strength needed increases proportionally to the square of the radius. Despite the massive advantage of huge propellers they can only have a maximum radius of a few meters - typically 8m.

The Future of Wind Power
Wind power for electricity certainly has a 'bright' future. However, if significant amounts of power are to be produced by windmills they must be built in offshore locations.

We also have a MOO Report on Wind Power.  Go to the MOO Report section of BSMO.co.uk.

 

 

. 1999-2003 Justin Taylor / John Dray

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