Archive for the ‘Wind Energy’ Category

Wind Energy Instruments getting Bigger & Better

Renewable energy production and demand growth is gaining momentum in many ways across the world. There is a booming demand of wind power today and all wind energy equipment manufacturers are gearing up to meet the demand and take advantage of it. Wind power capacity growth will be reaching 447GW in the next five years and by year 2014 end, Asia will lead the world in installed wind capacity. Enercon is amongst the other manufacturers who are focusing on 3MV-class wind turbines based on E-82/2.0. Without increasing the component sizes, there are new designs to operate at 3MW power. There will be a 3-6% increased yield because of these innovative designs as claimed by the Enercon.

Class I and II wind sites:
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has rated wind sites as Class I and II wind sites – IA and IIA sites. Various designs are being tested for low-wind speed inland sites as well as high-wind speed sites. E-82/2.3MW and E-82/3MW are for strong wind sites and E-1-1/3MW is for low-wind speed sites.

New designs at EWEC 2010:
The European Wind Energy Conference & Exhibition was held in Warsaw in Poland in April and REPower Systems AG presented two new improvements on their 3.XM series for sites with low-wind speed. 3.2M114 and 3.410 are optimal for less windy spots and 3.4104 on a 93 meter tower was specifically done for UK market as well special designs for Canada too.

Onshore wind turbines:
Large onshore wind turbines are now the forte of Alstom Wind. Easy maintenance and markedly ergonomically viable design make ECO 110 – their flagship – a successful larger scale rotor wind turbine.

New machines on display:
The EWEC 2010 showcased quite a few new designs and Gamesa and Siemens Energyare two of the companies putting up their G128-4.5 MW platform and wind turbine, and SWT-3.0-101 Direct Drive wind turbine respectively. Nordex SE has displayed N80, N90, and N100 wind turbines. Compact designs and superior specifications make these wind turbines remarkably efficient and noteworthy. They will increase the profitability with an assurance of quality and reliability.

Measures to improve energy output:
There are growing demands for more versatile machines which can be relied upon, durable and at the same time economical both while working with trouble-free maintenance. The people who invest in wind power want reliable and accurate data collection which can be reviewed easily. Today all the major wind power machine manufacturing companies are vying with each other to provide detailed and instant knowledge about wind and weather forecasting to improve energy output.

Future of Wind power:
Future of wind power is bright and shining as detailed studies by EWEA have already shown that power generation from wind energy is most economical. The consumers are reaping good benefits financially from wind power. There is no doubt”That wind is already directly curbing European electricity prices is perhaps less obvious, and all the more significant for it.”


Converting Waste Heat to Electricity

With rapid industrialization, the world has seen the development of a number of items or units, which generate heat. Until now this heat has often been treated as a waste, making people wonder if this enormous heat being generated can be transformed into a source of electric power. Now, with the physicists at the University of Arizona finding new ways to harvest energy through heat, this dream is actually going to become a reality. 

University of Arizona Research Team: The research team is headed by Charles Staffor. He is the associate professor of physics, and he along with his team worked on harvesting energy from waste. The team’s findings were published in the September 2010 issue of the scientific journal, ACS Nano.

Justin Bergfield who is an author and a doctoral candidate in the UA College of Optical Sciences shares his opinion, “Thermoelectricity can convert heat directly into electric energy in a device with no moving parts. Our colleagues in the field tell us that they are confident that the device we have designed on the computer can be built with the characteristics that we see in our simulations.”

 Spiking a conventional thermoelectric material with sodium and selenium creates regions in the crystal that conduct electricity more readily (blue and gold), boosting the material’s performance.

Advantages: Elimination of Ozone Depleting materials: Using the waste heat as a form of electric power has multiple advantages. Whereas on one hand, using the theoretical model of molecular thermoelectric helps in increasing the efficiency of cars, power plants factories and solar panels, on the other hand efficient thermoelectric materials make ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, outdated. 

More Efficient Design: The head of the research team Charles Stafford is hopeful about positive results because he expects that the thermoelectric voltage using their design will be 100 times more than what others have achieved. If the design of the team, which they have made on a computer does work, it will be a dream come true for all those engineers, who wanted to catch and make use of energy lost through waste but do not have the required efficient and economical devices to do so.

No need for Mechanics: The heat-conversion device invented by Bergfield and Stafford do not require any kind of machines or ozone-depleting chemicals, as was the case with refrigerators and steam turbines, which were earlier used to convert waste into electric energy. Now, the same work is done by sandwiching a rubber-like polymer between two metals, which acts like an electrode. The thermoelectric devices are self-contained, need no moving parts and are easy to manufacture and maintain. 

Utilization Of Waste Energy: Energy is harvested in many ways using the car and factory waste. Car and factory waste can be used for generating electricity by coating exhaust pipes with a thin material, which is a millionth time of an inch. Physicists also take advantage of the law of quantum physics, which though not used often enough, gives great results when it comes to generating power from the waste.  

Advantage Over Solar Energy:

Molecular thermoelectric devices may help in harvesting energy from the sun and reduce the dependence on photovoltic cells, whose efficiency in harvesting solar energy is going down.

How It Works

Though having worked on the molecule and thinking about using them for a thermoelectric device, Bergfield and Stafford had not found anything special till an undergraduate discovered that these molecules had special features. A large number of molecules were then sandwiched between electrodes and exposed to a stimulated heat source. The flow of electrons along the molecule was split in two once it encounters a benzene ring, with one flow of electrons following along each arm of the ring.

The benzene ring circuit was designed in such a way that the electron travels longer distance round the rings in one path, which causes the two electrons to be out of phase when they reach the other side of the benzene ring. The waves cancel out each-other on meeting. The interruption caused in the flow of electric charge due to varied temperature builds up voltage between electrodes.

The effects seen on molecules are not unique because any quantum scale device having cancellation of electric charge will show a similar effect if there is a temperature difference. With the increase in temperature difference, energy generated also increases.

Thermoelectric devices designed by Bergfield and Stafford can generate power that can lit a 100 Watt bulb or increase car’s efficiency by 25%.

Forecasting Wind Data with Cell Phone Towers

Wind data provider Onesemble has developed sensors which can keep note of wind date for around 95% of the wind farms existing in the Texas area. The help of cell phone towers is sought for this purpose. Onesemble Network Sensors collect accurate data by getting to know the wind speed at a great height. This is done by placing the sensor at the height of the turbine rotor or the blades. Onesemble Network Sensors assembles figures on wind speed, direction and temperature in a cell phone tower, which are then analyzed on a computer to point out what is going to happen in times to come.

How censors work

Onesemble has put the sensors on the cell phone towers, which are 80-120 meters above the ground. Forecasting can be enabled every 10 minutes with the help of real time data from the sensors fed into its system. The data fed and the predictions that are attained this way are both quite precise.

To seek the help of cell phone towers for wind farms, data is supplied to the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) through a network of 100 sensor centers. These centers are put in a proper manner near the wind farm all over Texas by the ERCOT, which manages 75% of Texas’s electric grid. Wind farms use behavior patterns and predictions to analyze the change in availability of electricity in a given area with these towers and data.

 The need for wind data

The need for power grid will increase with the increase in the wind farms and the uneven output of these wind farms. This is a huge problem but its solution can be found the following ways:

  • By making long-distance transmission capacity by connecting all local and regional grids with each-other.
  • By optimum use of wind by estimating how much wind is needed every hour. By providing accurate wind data.

Advantages of Wind Data Forecasting by Cell Towers

  • Cell Towers already exist. By taking their help for wind forecasting data, you are putting them to duel use.
  • It helps make wind more productive.
  • It increases the efficiency of the power plant.


Solar and wind power have long been two of the main contenders in the race to find the next big renewable energy resource. Rather than choosing between the two, scientists at Washington State University have instead combined them.

Using a massive 8,400-kilometer-wide (5,220-mile-wide) solar sail to harvest the power in solar wind, the team hopes their concept could generate 1 billion billion gigawatts of power, far more power than humanity needs — if they can get that power back to Earth.

“It’s quite amazing how much power it can actually produce,” said Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a scientist at Washington State University and a co-author of the paper, which appears in the International Journal of Astrobiology. “In principle it should work quite well, but there are some practical issues.”

Solar wind doesn’t act like wind on Earth, and the satellite wouldn’t generate electricity like a windmill.

Instead of physically rotating a blade attached to a turbine, the proposed satellite would use a charged copper wire to capture electrons zooming away from the sun at several hundred kilometers per second.

According to the team’s calculations, 300 meters (984 feet) of copper wire, attached to a two-meter-wide (6.6-foot-wide) receiver and a 10-meter (32.8-foot) sail, would generate enough power for 1,000 homes.

A satellite with a 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) cable and a sail 8,400 kilometers (5,220 miles) across, placed at roughly the same orbit, would generate one billion billion gigawatts of power.

That’s approximately 100 billion times the power Earth currently uses.

Of course, all of that power has to be able to get to Earth. Some of the energy the satellite generates would be pumped back into the copper wire to create the electron-harvesting magnetic field. The rest of the energy would power an infrared laser beam, which would help fulfill the whole planet’s energy needs day and night regardless of environmental conditions.

The main shortfall of this approach is that over the millions of miles between the satellite and Earth, even the tightest laser beam would spread out and lose a lot of its original energy. While most of the technology to create the satellite already exists, a more focused laser would be necessary, said Schulze-Makuch.

Greg Howes, a scientist at the University of Iowa, agrees that “the energy is certainly there,” in solar wind, and that to generate practical amounts of energy from solar wind would require a very big satellite, “but the practical constraints are a big question.”

Brooks Harrop, the other co-author of the journal paper, said that they made “practically no allowance for engineering difficulties,” and that these problems would have to be solved before any satellite like it could be deployed.