Rooftop/local wind turbines
Wind energy is one of the oldest forms of energy that has been in use by mankind. In fact, fossil fuels are relatively new when compared to wind energy. The latter has clearly been in existence even before the industrial revolution and was used for a variety of purposes. The main usage was however limited to agrarian activities. Wind energy, as is well known, is environmentally friendly and is unlimited. This was put to good use in pre-industrial revolution times. A good example was the practice of using windmills to channelize wind energy for energy requirements.
With the advent of industrial revolution, fossil fuels took precedence over renewable sources of energy such as wind energy. However, in the last few decades, wind energy has again experienced a resurgence considering its manifold benefits and the latest in technology. Wind energy is unlimited whereas fossil fuels are expected to run out very soon. Secondly, the former is eco-friendly whereas the latter has already caused considerable harm to our environment. Thirdly, the recent enhancements and developments in technology have made wind energy an economically viable solution when compared to fossil fuels.
In present times, there are 2 types of basic wind turbines viz., horizontal axis and vertical axis. Horizontal axis turbines [HAWTs] are more common across the world. However, by nature of their design, they need to be aimed directly at the wind. As a result, they are equipped with a tailvane that ensures they are always pointed in the direction of the wind. On the other hand, vertical axis wind turbines [VAWTs] are currently gaining ground since they have the benefit of working irrespective of the direction that the wind is blowing. The flip side is that they need more ground space when compared to horizontal axis wind turbines. This is essentially because the guy wires of the vertical axis wind turbines are required to be supported.
Earlier models of wind turbines were primarily suited to rural environments since the towers could be easily installed and the turbine noise could be dissipated. Further aesthetics was less of a concern in such environments. However, the latest models have become more compact, less noisy and more aesthetic and they are now being deployed in urban environments too including residential areas on rooftops or localities.
Special Features of Wind Turbines:
The latest in wind turbines technology highlights the clear benefits of deploying them. Some key features of these technologies including the fact they are quite light weight and can be easily installed even by individuals on a Do-It Yourself (DIY) basis. Their span is also shorter and as such, they take very little space when they are fully installed. Earlier models operated through gear boxes, shafts and generators. However, the current models feature gear-less mechanisms or "free wheeling turbines" that facilitate the generation of wind generation primarily at the blade tips where the speed lies. Moreover, these technologies can also harness lower wind speeds and are not necessarily limited to medium to high speeds. The net result is that there is minimal mechanical resistance and drag and is far more effective and efficient in energy generation than previous models. These turbines are less noisy and this is a big plus for them. Coupled to this is the fact that the return on investment is faster.
Benefits and Barriers:
The major benefit of energy generated through wind turbines is that it is completely free and abundant. Moreover, wind energy is not even dependant on the sun or on the day / night cycle. Therefore, it can be tapped on a 24x7 basis albeit the flow of winds. As such, wind energy is one of the most reliable sources of renewable energy. It is a power source that can be relied and banked upon.
Unlike fossil fuels and other conventional sources of energy, it is absolutely pollution free and is thoroughly in sync with nature. Further, there is no hazardous waste produced through this form of energy as is the case with coal and nuclear powered energies. To top it all, it doesn’t require any fuel to either be transported or combusted like water, gas or coal.
Global Warming: Wind energy ensures that there is no contribution to global warming since it is clean and natural energy. On the other hand, it contributes greatly to a green planet.
Green house gas reduction: The energy generated through wind is completely free of green house gases. This is definitely not the case with other conventional sources of energy. Therefore, by enhancing the usage of wind energy, the world can actually reduce the green house gases and make Earth a cleaner planet.
Conventional fuels: Wind energy is a sound investment for the future since it is growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, the latest advances in technology are speeding the adoption of wind energy as a viable and economic alternative that promises faster return on investment. The technology has also become more cheaper over the last few decades. It is an unlimited source of energy and will last through the life cycle of the planet. This is a definite plus when compared with conventional fuels. The latter are expected to run out in the near future – some of them perhaps in our own lifetimes.