Several thousand years ago, wind energy was being used in some civilizations in the world. Historical evidence has shown that in 5000 BC, wind was used to power simple sails and this was very helpful in the transportation using the mode of transport of water, the champions of this technology being the people who lived on the basin of the Nile River. This form of energy was not a temporary form of energy as it would later be used by humans in various transport vessels for a very long time to come, until the use of engine-propelled ships and boats was invented. It also played a very important role in the opening of the world trade routes of the sea (Encarta).
Wind is one of the various forms of solar energy. Wind is caused by various causes which include the sun’s rays heating the atmosphere unevenly, earth’s rotation and various irregularities that are witnessed on the surface of the earth. The patterns that are used by winds are defined and modified by various forces. These include the earth’s terrain, vegetative cover and large bodies of water like oceans, seas and lakes. Wind flow is also referred to as motion energy and can be harvested by the use of wind turbines. When harvested, wind is sometimes used to generate electricity (Library think quest).
Wind energy is a term in describing the various processes that are employed when wind is used in generating electric power or mechanical power. There is a gross use of wind turbines which are used to convert the motion or kinetic energy of the wind into the electricity or mechanical energy. This power has various uses which include pumping of fluids, grinding of grains and electricity power which must use a generator which converts the mechanical power into electricity which is used to power various entities like homes, schools, businesses and a contingent of other places and uses.
Generation of wind energy
The generation of wind energy requires the use of a wind turbine. A wind turbine converts the wind’s kinetic energy to mechanical energy through the rotation of the wind turbine. Wind turbines which are used for converting kinetic energy to mechanical energy to be the final product, which is mainly used in pumps or grinding stones, these wind turbines are called plainly windmills. Windmills which are used to convert kinetic energy to mechanical energy which is then transformed into electrical energy, these windmills are usually referred to as wind generators, wind energy converter (WEC), wind power unit (WPU) or aero generator. Wind turbines require places where there are abundant high-speed weeds otherwise they will be a failure. Wind turbines are usually located in a wind farm and this is where a lot of wind energy is harvested (Encarta).
The generation of electricity from a wind turbine uses various technologies and one of the most formidable is the grind management system. The electricity that is generated in a wind farm is transmitted into the transmission network that is responsible for transmitting power at the national level. Wind turbines are connected to a power collection system that has a standard voltage. The power collected is then transmitted into a substation where the power is then increased its voltage and this is done through the use of transformers. In some cases there is the production of surplus power and this has been very beneficial to some companies known as utility companies. The surplus power is fed back into the network and is then traded to the utility company and thus produces a retail credit of consumers which helps the consumers to have fewer energy costs. Wind speed is not always constant and hence the power produced is seldom as high as the nameplate ratings on the generator (Wind Energy Development Programmatic).
Wind power utilization
The year 1979 saw the establishment of the modern industry dealing in wind power and this was championed by Danish manufacturers Nordtank, Kuriant, Bonus and Vestas who built the first wind turbines. However, the initial wind turbines were relatively small considering those of today and their capacities were even lower. In recent years the wind turbines have greatly increased size and the technology has spread to many countries around the globe. Thousands of wind turbines are being used around the world with an estimated nameplate capacity in the range of 79,904 megawatts. Europe accounts for more than 65 percent of the wind power generated and used. This form of energy production and utilization is growing at tremendous levels with the wind generation capacities multiplying by a quadruple from the year 2000 to the year 2006. Most wind power generation is in developed countries with North America and Europe accounting for 82 percent of installations. In the year 2007, Germany, Spain, China, India and United States have ranked the top countries in installed capacity. It is expected that by the year 2010, over 160GW capacity will be installed all over the world with developing countries urged to adopt the new technology (Encarta).
Denmark gets a fifth of its power from wind energy and it is the leading country in the usage of wind power. It is ranked fifth in wind power production. It is one of the most prominent countries in terms of wind power generation and usage. It is also one of the leading producers of wind turbines and this was greatly influenced by the commitment the country made in the 1970s to generate half of its power from the wind. Also following in its footsteps is the United States of America which has installed more wind power generation turbines more than any other country in the world. In this respect, the United States has increased the wind power energy that is being added to the national power grid. The country nameplate capacity was lower than Germany’s by mid 2008 but it was the world’s leading wind power producer taking the advantage that there were convenient winds flowing over the country’s wind farms. California had been the leading generator but it was overtaking recently by Texas. Other states are picking up the trend and this is very beneficial to the country in terms of environmental and power generation costs (Library think quest).
Non-renewable energy sources are also known as fossil fuels and are very expensive to use. They include such things as oil, coal and natural gas which have widespread use all over the world. They have dominated the world since the first usage of them was invented where they were used to run steam engines. These fuels are mined from the ground and hence the reason why they are called non-renewable energy. Right now, petroleum commonly called oil is the only commercial fuel of liquid form. Propane and natural gas are gases while coal is solid.
It is important to note that oil is the most widely used non-renewable source of energy. Most of the oil is mined in the middle east. Due to the instability in the region, oil has posed a great jeopardy to the world’s powers which require a lot of oil to run its industries as well as other uses. The world mainly is dependent on oil for power. Oil has its fair share of controversy. While some countries do not have enough technology to overcome their dependence on oil, there is a lot of problems associated with the usage of oil. One of the problems is that the oil reservoirs of oil are diminishing and hence the need for a drastic course of action on the dependency on oil. However, most of the developing countries cannot afford the necessary technology and hence the continued use of this source of power. In addition oil has been the cause of many conflicts which have been witnessed in the Middle East region and the Arab region (Wind Energy Development Programmatic).
However. the most stressing point is that oil has been responsible for the deteriorating environmental condition in most parts of the world. The use of renewable sources of energy has been lobbied for but the world is not yet ready to use such power because of limited technology. The issue of global warming has been blamed mostly on the usage of oil. So in the real sense the world needs to adopt new mechanisms for generating its own power.
Advantages of wind power over oil
As far as cost is concerned, wind power is more cost-effective than the use of oil. Oil involves many processes which use a lot of money. The extraction of oil is very expensive and the costs of transportation and refining are not inclusive of these. Furthermore, oil entails a lot of procedures before it reaches the end consumer. This means that oil uses a lot of resources and revenue and hence it is very costly on the end consumer. Furthermore, the people who control the distribution of oil can hitch prices at their own will and hence brings about gross confusion all over the world. On the other hand, wind power is generally cheaper. It is only costly at the initial stages when a country will have to buy the various equipment that is related to the wind power generation. On the other side, wind power is very easy to distribute because once the kinetic energy has been converted to mechanical and then to electricity, it only needs to be connected to the national power grid and hence the distribution is very easy and very cheap (Library think quest).
In environmental matters, wind power is very environmentally conscious when compared to the oil usage. Oil has been blamed for the degenerating environmental conditions all over the world. This is because when it burns, it produces some harmful chemicals which pollute the air. In the same respect, machines that use oil also cause a lot of noise compared to the machines that use wind power. Until now wind power has not been associated with any form of environmental degradation (Wind Energy Development Programmatic).
Oil is also associated with a lot of processes which can be very inconvenient at times. Once oil has been discovered in a place, there is the mining that follows. What is mined is crude oil and cannot be used in that form so it has to undergo a refining process. This process takes a lot of time and energy and once the products have been refined to various products like diesel and gasoline, the products have to be transported to the end consumer. Oil also involves a lot of distribution networks which use a lot of a country’s resources compared to the fact that wind energy only needs to be connected to the national power grid.
Disadvantages of wind power of oil
One of the disadvantages of wind power is that it requires a substantial amount of investment so that it can be initiated. The construction and installation of the wind turbines can be very costly and this is why their use is limited in the poor and developing countries. On the other hand, oil is relatively cheaper for these countries because they do not need a lot of capital to start using oil. It is also important to note wind power involves a lot of technology that may limit its use in the third-world countries. This means that these countries will have problems even in the future if a mechanical problem occurs (AssociatedContent).
Another disadvantage is that wind power cannot be predictable unlike oil. Wind power is dependent on the speed of winds and the availability of winds. However with oil, you can be sure that unless a shortage occurs the machines will be running as usual. In case of shortages, the oil industry gives out warnings about an impeding oil shortage and hence being a convenient source of energy (AssociatedContent).
Associated Content (2008): www.associatedcontent.com Five disadvantages of wind power. 2009. Web.
Encarta (2008): www.encarta.msn.com. 2009. Web.
Library think quest (2008): www.library.thinkquest.org Energy in our world. Web.
Wind Energy Development Programmatic (2007): Web.
Wind Turbines Now (2008): www.windturbinesnow.com wind turbines now. 2009. Web.