The Power of Wind: An Overview of Wind Turbines


Wind turbines harness kinetic energy from wind and convert it into electricity. There are many different designs of turbines used to capture wind, and turbines can be used at both small and large scales. Some countries use a system of wind farms, or collections of many wind turbines, to generate power and offset their dependency on fossil fuels. On the other hand, a growing number of individual businesses and even personal residencies use turbines to partially or fully power their spaces.

Wind turbines are renewable sources of energy that produce virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, the European Union produced enough wind power to cover 11.6% of total electricity needs. On this scale, needs are met via wind farms, either onshore or offshore. The most popular style on wind farms are horizontal-axis. One of this style of turbine, the pinwheel structure with spinning blades at the top of a tall tower, is the most widely used and recognized. However, there are also designs which spin on their vertical axis, as well as many variations. Some turbines include wind sensors to determine the most efficient positioning, and most include gearboxes which can further increase the speed of the spinning blades. 

If you want to harness the power of the wind yourself, you have options. Small-scale wind power systems use residential turbines, which aim to collect enough energy to power their own households. It may even be possible to sell surplus energy back to the power company. It is, however, important to note that wind turbines are only beneficial in areas with strong enough wind. This means that in general, rural areas with less interference from tall buildings are more likely to be suitable for wind power. Higher elevation areas also tend to be windier. However, many are discovering ways to use the power of the wind in urban areas. Smaller, lightweight, and noise-free models are available. Vertical-axis turbines sometimes function better in areas where wind speeds are unpredictable. Wherever you are, it’s important to do some initial research of your area to determine whether wind power will be a viable option for you before you invest your time and money into the project.

A few preliminary steps are necessary before you begin a residential wind power project. First, make sure your area allows wind turbines. This is especially important if you live in a urban area with more regulations. It’s also a good idea to take basic steps to ensure you’re conserving as much energy in your home, such as checking the efficiency of your insulation. You should also gather data about wind speeds and predictability in your area. Often, you can request this information from a local airport or weather station. Once you have the data, you can calculate (check out this guide from the UK Royal Academy of Engineering) efficiency to help you choose the best turbine for you. Then you can get into direct research of turbines, keeping in mind which will be best for your space. Try online reviews such as this one for residential turbines. 

Wind power is the fastest growing source of renewable energy in the world. If you choose to invest in a wind turbine, you will be joining an ever-growing movement to use one of the planet’s most abundant resources. 



May 21, 2020