What is wind energy, why is it the largest renewable energy source globally, which country produces the most wind energy, and what is the connection between wind turbines and slip rings? We answer all these questions and more in this article.
What Is Wind Energy?
Even though it may not be apparent, wind energy is connected to solar energy. The website focused on conserving energy, Conserve-energy-future.com, explains this connection. It says, “The wind is caused by uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun.” Adding that when it’s heated, “Hot air rises up and cool air flows in to take its place.”
Regarding the generation of electrical power from wind energy, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) explains that the “Wind flows over the blades creating lift (similar to the effect on airplane wings), which causes the blades to turn.” Adding that “The blades are connected to a drive shaft that turns an electric generator, which produces (generates) electricity.”
The History of Wind Energy
The use of the wind to generate energy dates back thousands of years. For instance, the EIA says that people used wind energy to propel boats as early as 5,000 BC.
The EIA also reports that “By 200 BC, simple wind-powered water pumps were used in China, and windmills with woven-reed blades were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East.” Over the centuries, wind energy would remain an important power source for pumping water from underground lakes, grinding grain, and cutting wood in sawmills.
Even though the use of wind pumps and turbines declined as electrical power became available to more people in the 1930s, wind energy would see a rebound in the 1970s. According to the EIA, this resulted from the oil shortages experienced during this time, which forced governments to invest in other forms of energy.
Growing consciousness about the adverse environmental effects associated with the use of fossil fuels in the 21st century has prompted almost every government on the planet to start supporting efforts to move away from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. This has led to a proliferation of wind farms both inland and offshore.