November 13, 2006

Alternatives Topic

In our ever-changing world, resources are not quite as accessible as they have been in the past. Planet Earth has taken a lot of abuse from the human race. Now, we are slowly and unfortunately facing the consequences of our actions. One important issue facing our generation is the possibility and reality of running out of energy. Thankfully, there are alternative types of energy that are more environmentally friendly. One type of alternative energy is wind power.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia described wind power as “the conversion of wind energy into more useful forms, usually electricity using wind turbines.? Wind power is created by using the rotation on turbine blades and transforming them into an electrical current. With windmills, the energy from wind can be used to do physical tasks by turning machines. It can also be used on wind farms where electrical grids are used to provide electricity to peoples nearby or those near the grid. Wind power has several benefits: it is renewable, there is a wealth of it, and it’s also clean.
Wind power was first introduced to North America after World War I. In the 1920’s Marcellus Jacobs took parts of his Ford Model T and the water pumping windmill that belonged to his parents and ended up creating a wind-driven electric generator. He became successful at it and eventually created his own plant.
Wind may seem to be an unlikely energy source. Wind exists because the sun does not evenly heat the Earth. Because of this, the North and South Poles receive less sunlight than the Equator. Wind is also created when the amount of time it takes for land and seas to heat up and cool down are varying.
There are a few different types of wind that are pertinent to wind power and wind-energy conversion. They include relative wind, ground wind, and wind that occur because of the blades on windmills. Wind power works to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy and finally into wind energy. Wind turbines assist in this process. Turbines alter the moving air into rotating power. In 1919, Albert Betz, a German physicist figured out that a wind turbine could take out a maximum of 59% of energy from the air.
Several factors may influence one’s ability to successfully use the wind for an alternate form of energy. The speed or velocity of wind is an important factor as it will input how the windmill or more specifically, the turbine operates. Altitude can also affect wind power as wind velocity increases as height increases. Geographical facts such as mountains, trees, rocks, and buildings are central to wind power because they affect the wind’s speed. Smoother, steeper areas increase wind speed and populated areas with buildings or other distractions can decrease wind. Because of this, placement of turbines is done quite strategically. Some wind turbines are even placed in bodies of water. There are not quite as many obstacles such as buildings and the wind is generally stronger. Unfortunately, they are not as easy to get to and can be susceptible to rough conditions. This makes offshore turbines more costly.
Wind power is just one way humans can change their lives to help preserve Planet Earth and all of its resources. After centuries of abuse, it’s one way to work to make things better and more environmentally friendly.

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