Wind power plants, which are widely known as wind farms, are the infrastructure that converts the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. It is a sustainable approach to electricity generation as renewable energy is utilized and eventually helps in reducing the carbon footprint by decreasing the consumption of carbon such as fossil fuels and coal to generate electricity.
The power plants consist of a collection of wind turbines which are either horizontal or vertical type. The wind coming at a certain speed and in a specific direction rotates the rotor blades across the large areas of wind farms and generates electricity from the conversion of kinetic energy into mechanical or electrical energy.
The functioning of a wind turbine is like that of a normal turbine in converting energy. They differ in structure as the wind turbines are designed in such a way that the height and length of the rotor blades are in the same ratio. These can be placed on land areas as well as off the shore and even other sources of renewable energy generation such as solar energy can be incorporated for better results at effective and efficient cost.
The life span of wind turbines is found to be more than 20 years when compared with other alternative power plants. The efficiency of such power plants ranges from around 20-40%, but it requires maintenance at regular intervals of at least six months.
Working of Wind Power Plant
The working of wind turbines is based on the principle of energy conversion from kinetic to mechanical or electrical. The sizes available of windmills specifically for offshore areas range from 100 KW to 36 MW and continuous efforts are made by the engineers to design a wind turbine of 10 MW for better efficiency.
Irrespective of their sizes, wind turbines have the following functions:
- By harnessing the power of natural wind energy, wind turbines can effectively rotate the rotor blade using a maximum wind force of 55mph.
- The blades are struck with varying force due to variations in air pressure, causing the shaft connected to the blade to spin.
- This shaft is further connected to a gearbox equipped with gears that not only transmit mechanical energy but also enhance the rotational speed of the blade from a modest 30-60 rpm to an impressive 1000-1800 rpm.
- The generator is run by the mechanical force of rotor blades and eventually produces electrical energy.
- The generated electricity is converted from DC to AC using the power converter and the voltage is increased with the help of the step-up transformer.
- Lastly, the electricity generated by the wind turbine is collected at the wind farm collection point and is supplied to the consumers of various fields.
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Types of Wind Power Plant (Wind Turbines)
Based on the rotational axis basis the wind turbines are classified as:
- Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT): The tip of the shaft is in the same direction as that of the wind and resembles windmills these are more commonly used. For turning larger turbines, wind sensors and servos are used. The rotor blades are mounted perpendicularly on a horizontal shaft to the ground.
- Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT): It is less commonly used as it is more costly and requires more space. Here the rotor blades are mounted on a vertical shaft parallel to the ground. It is more difficult to install as well.
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