Benefits of wind power
Wind power - an explanation
Wind Turbines generate clean, renewable energy and can either be connected to mains electricity supply (on-grid) or they can be ‘stand alone’ and used to charge batteries (off-grid).
The wind turbine is the part of the system that generates electricity. Some of the wind turbines are a downwind design which means that the blades are on the side of the tower that faces away from the wind. Other turbines are operated by the blades facing into wind. In each case the turbine directly drives an electrical generator, which in itself is driven by the rotor. Most turbines we supply and install use a three bladed rotor, as it provides a good compromise between efficiency and rotor balance. All our wind turbines protect themselves from high winds. Some turbines automatically pitch the blades to regulate energy capture and blade speed, other turbines rotate the blades out of the wind or apply a brake to stop the turbine turning. Whatever the technique, all of our turbines are safe no matter how strong the wind and they produce electricity whenever the wind blows, even in high winds.
The electricity generated is three phase alternating current (AC), at a fixed frequency and voltage, with a fixed rotational speed of the turbine. This AC power is transmitted down the tower on wires, to a controller. In most case, the turbine is connected to the Grid, and supplies power to match the specification of the Grid. In some cases, the electricity may be converted to direct current (DC) to charge batteries.
The tower is required to get the turbine up into the most efficient area of the wind flow. A wind generator tower is very often more expensive than the turbine. The tower puts the turbine up in the smooth strong winds that give the most energy. Three common types of towers are tilt-up, fixed-guyed, and freestanding. We tend to use the freestanding type, as they are easier to access for maintenance. Towers must be specifically engineered for the lateral thrust and weight of the turbine; ours is a tapering tube, made from galvanised steel. It is bolted to a strong base, which is normally concreted into the ground. We can provide full details of the metal base. The tower should be adequately grounded to protect your equipment against lightning damage.
This depends on how you plan to use the electricity generated.
- wind power with battery or generator backup
- grid connected
Wind power with battery and/or generator backup
This system has backup for when the wind drops. Banks of batteries can be charged by the wind turbine when the wind blows, and these cut in to provide power should the wind drop. It is possible to have batteries that provide power for up to three days. An alternative is to use a stand-alone generator which provides electrical power directly when the wind drops. This runs on diesel or petrol and can be noisy and smelly. However, if a backup system is required, it provides a ready answer. We'd expect to need it for only 50 to 200 hours in a year, depending on site conditions. This is a source of backup power with no limit, as long as you keep it fuelled.
It is possible to connect into the National Grid. The Grid acts as a backup for when the wind drops, because it lets you draw power from the Grid. Payment for electricity generated is handled through the Feed in Tariff scheme introduced in April 2010. For further details, go to our Feed-in Tariffs page
The electrical control equipment for a Grid connected system. This includes a meter to measure the electricity supplied to the Grid.
[Need a new image here]The base of the tower, fixed down to the base set in concrete. The hinge to allow the tower to be tilted can be seen in the foreground.
Comparing wind and solar power
In terms of simplicity and in terms of power generation, wind power beats all other forms of renewable energy for the individual, business or community. When the turbine is sited in the correct place it will harness wind power whenever the wind is blowing, both day and night. All the wind turbines we supply have safety devices fitted to shut the turbine down in extreme wind conditions. There are two kinds of solar panels, Photo Voltaic panels (PVs) which generate electricity, and ‘thermal’ solar panels which circulate water through pipes and the solar radiation heats the water. PV’s and wind turbines generate electricity which can be used to provide light, heat and drive motors.
Wind power is an appealing way to generate your own power. The process is fully visible, occupies little space and is efficient.