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How Wind Energy works to produce electricity
The cause of all wind is the sun's uneven heating of the earth's surface. The areas of the earth that receive the most direct rays of the sun also receive the greater portion of heat.
Hotter air contains more energy and pressure than cooler air. Because of the uneven pressures across the earth's surface, the pressures seek to equalize. This movement of air from the equalization of pressures creates wind. This form of heat transfer is called convection.
Extreme weather, such as seen in tornados, are formed by the the collision warm air and cold air in a large vortex.
The most active area of wind is found in the highest elevations where they are not restricted by ground objects and terrain.
Open plains, shorelines and high mountains are more likely to have strong winds than low valleys.
The wind energy can be harnessed by wind turbines and converted into electricity. The more wind there is available consistently, the more electricity can be produced. Betz law states that no more than 59% of the energy flowing across the turbine can be harnessed, regardless of the design.
The best design for harnessing the wind is the 3 propeller design. This is the design most used in electricity producing wind farms.
For the purposes of creating electricity, it is more important that there is a consistent wind over a long period of time than a lot of wind in short bursts.
Wind generators are basically DC motors connected to a propellers which turn with the wind. Gearing or pulley systems are sometimes employed to turn the generator at its best rated speed for the average wind speed in its location
Unlike solar panels, which cannot produce electricity at night, wind turbines and windmills can produce electricity at any time when sufficient wind is present. For this reason many homeowners choose to use both wind and solar together to produce their electricity needs.
So how exactly do wind turbines produce electricity? Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy found in wind to mechanical energy.
The mechanical energy is then converted to electrical energy through use of a DC motor connected directly or indirectly to the mechanical propeller. Wind turbines that create electricity are called wind generators, wind power units, wind energy converters and aerogenerators.
The wind generator has conductors (wires) that can then be connected to a system for energy storage. An energy storage system is necessary because of the erratic levels of electricity produced. It would not be practical to have the brightness of indoor lighting constantly fluctuating with the wind speed outside.
Extreme winds, if not accounted for in the design of wind turbines, can damage the turbine. All wind turbines have wind limits, and some kind of system in place to prevent damage. Braking systems are typically employed in professional systems.
Wind turbines are not to be confused with windmills, which is a machine that will turn a pump or grinding stones. Wind turbines produce electricity, but windmills do not.
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