Wind Power Energy

Joseph asks…

What kind of Engineer deals with coming up with new ways to use renewable energy?

When i say renewable energy i mean like solar power, wind power, hydroelectric power . Is there a certain type of engineer who works in these areas? Where is a good place to go to school for this type of Engineering.

Windmill Farms answers:

Renewable energy is a specialized area of engineering. There is no engineering degree that focuses solely on renewable energy. The closest ones that I can think of are Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The principles of chemical reactions are important in the study of energy. But to design and construct the harnessing devices requires knowledge of mechanical engineering.

Every engineer is taught the basics of every engineering discipline so even Computer Engineers can qualify if they specialize beyond their undergraduate education.

If you live in the Philippines, the best school to go to is of course the University of the Philippines. Among private universities, De La Salle University – Manila is best, followed by MAPUA. Ateneo De Manila’s engineering is handled by the Physics department as I have been told so I would be hesitant towards that school. The University of Sto. Tomas seems to have strong engineering background as well, but I have no certainty about that. In choosing the right school, accreditation of the engineering department and not just the school accreditation is important.

Laura asks…

How much electrical energy (in kWh) can the wind turbine generate in a year?

Assume a wind turbine with a hub 50.0 m above the ground, a rotor diameter of 50.0 m, and a wind-power conversion efficiency of 25%. The turbine operates in an area with an average wind-power density of 500 watts/m2 at 50 m altitude. How much electrical energy (in kWh) can the wind turbine generate in a year?

Windmill Farms answers:

The question is written to allow for a rather simple solution, unlike the challenges of real wind turbine power and energy estimation.

Energy = Power x Time

Electric power produced = conversion efficiency x gross wind power

Gross wind power = power density x turbine swept area

So, with all the equations at hand, we can solve the problem.

Turbine swept area = 2 x pi x (25 m)^2 = 3927 m^2
Wind power density = 500 W/m^2

Thus, Gross wind power = 500 W/m^2 x 3927 m^2 = 1.9635 x10^6 W = 1.9635 MW

Electric power produced = 0.25 * 1.9635 MW = 0.49087 MW

Since the problem identifies the wind power as long-term average, we can calculate the average energy produced in a year.

Energy (Joules) = Watts x seconds
Energy = 0.49087 MW x 31536000 s = 15.487 x10^6 MJ
But the question asked for energy measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

So, Energy = 490.87 kW * 8760 h = 4300100 kWh produced in 1 year.

Unfortunately, a real wind turbine would produce this energy in an unscheduleable manner, typically peaking when the demand (load) is lowest. That’s the challenge of wind energy.

Mark asks…

What environmental issues need to be considered when choosing an alternative energy source?

It is for an energy assignment in science about alternative energy. You know the usual stuff solar power wind power all that stuff. what do you have to think about when you’re thinking about choosing an alternative energy source

Windmill Farms answers:

Mainly local environmental impact.
Eg. Daming a river for a hydro turbine is no loger considered environmental as it damages the local environment.
As microhydro turbines don’t as they only divert part of the river a bit.

The embodied energy is also important factor when considering what alternative energy is going to used.
For example solar hot water heaters have an energy payback of about 1 year.
Solar Panels have an energy payback of about 6-8 years.
As the silicon is a rare metal when requiring to build them.
Then it would be the logical step to first use a solar hot water system before putting solar cells up on your roof.

Same with wind power you also need to consider viability of the energy source at that location….
If there is not enough wind or too much turbulence.
This can effect what energy source is considered most viable at that location.

Eg. Hawaii is about to turn it’s whole electricity economy to geothermal as it is most viable as they are on a volcanoe.

Carol asks…

What are the energy transfers of the different energy resources?

Can u please explain the different energy transfers that take place for the following energy resources….

Geothermal Energy
Nuclear Energy
Hydroelectric Power
Solar Power
Biomass
Wind Power
Waves
Tidal Power
Coal/Oil/Gas

i.e. Gravitational PE to Kinetic energy to Electrical energy.

I would appreciate any help.
Thank You in advance.

Windmill Farms answers:

Solar Power:
Heat-> Electrical -> Mechanical

You can easily get an answer with a little bit of research.

Nancy asks…

What are really great advantages to Wind energy?

Also, if you can. Some disadvantages countered… Example
Wind energy kills bird, yes but not many etc

Windmill Farms answers:

Advantages
1. Wind energy is fueled by the wind, so it’s a clean fuel source. Wind energy doesn’t pollute the air like power plants that rely on combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas. Wind turbines don’t produce atmospheric emissions that cause acid rain or greenhouse gasses.
2. Wind energy is a domestic source of energy, produced in the United States. The nation’s wind supply is abundant.
3. Wind energy relies on the renewable power of the wind, which can’t be used up. Wind is actually a form of solar energy; winds are caused by the heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the rotation of the earth, and the earth’s surface irregularities.
4. Wind energy is one of the lowest-priced renewable energy technologies available today, costing between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending upon the wind resource and project financing of the particular project.
5. Wind turbines can be built on farms or ranches, thus benefiting the economy in rural areas, where most of the best wind sites are found. Farmers and ranchers can continue to work the land because the wind turbines use only a fraction of the land. Wind power plant owners make rent payments to the farmer or rancher for the use of the land.

Disadvantages
1. Wind power must compete with conventional generation sources on a cost basis. Depending on how energetic a wind site is, the wind farm may or may not be cost competitive. Even though the cost of wind power has decreased dramatically in the past 10 years, the technology requires a higher initial investment than fossil-fueled generators.
2. The major challenge to using wind as a source of power is that the wind is intermittent and it does not always blow when electricity is needed. Wind energy cannot be stored (unless batteries are used); and not all winds can be harnessed to meet the timing of electricity demands.
3. Good wind sites are often located in remote locations, far from cities where the electricity is needed. Transmission lines must be built to bring the electricity from the wind farm to the city.
4. Wind resource development may compete with other uses for the land and those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation.
5. Although wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to other conventional power plants, there is some concern over the noise produced by the rotor blades, aesthetic (visual) impacts, and sometimes birds have been killed by flying into the rotors. Most of these problems have been resolved or greatly reduced through technological development or by properly siting wind plants.

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