The wind turbines are expected to provide 11% to 15% of the towers’ total power consumption, or approximately 1.1 to 1.3 GWh a year. This is equivalent to providing the lighting for about 300 homes, 258 hospitals, 17 industrial plants, and 33 car engines. They are expected to operate 50% of the time on an average day.
The future of our buildings and intercity structures will require the integration of induction generators. These were often used for wind power projects in the 1980s and 1990s, and require reactive power for excitation so substations used in wind-power collection systems include substantial capacitor banks for power factor correction. Different types of wind turbine generators behave differently during transmission grid disturbances, so extensive modelling of the dynamic electromechanical characteristics of a new wind farm is required by transmission system operators to ensure predictable stable behavior during system faults. Induction generators support the system voltage during faults, unlike steam or hydro turbine-driven synchronous generators.
Our economy has an insatiable appetite for energy, and because of the negative side effects of fossil fuels, the quicker that we can supplement and/or replace petroleum-based power sources, the better. Wind power is a great way to generate clean renewable energy, and the innovations in wind technology being pursued over the last year or so are a reminder that with the right tools, we can turn the movement of the air above us and the structures we’re familiar with into fuel for our energy-hungry lifestyles.
An airborne wind turbine is a design concept for a wind turbine with a rotor supported in the air without a tower, thus benefiting from more mechanical and aerodynamic options, the higher velocity and persistence of wind at high altitudes, while avoiding the expense of tower construction, or the need for slip rings or yaw mechanism. An electrical generator may be on the ground or airborne. Challenges include safely suspending and maintaining turbines hundreds of meters off the ground in high winds and storms, transferring the harvested and/or generated power back to earth, and interference with aviation. This is a positive innovation in wind energy and resolves issues of tower construction in difficult locations.
The environmental impact of wind power when compared to the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, is relatively minor. Compared with other low carbon power sources, wind turbines have some of the lowest global warming potential per unit of electrical energy generated. According to the IPCC, in assessments of the life-cycle global warming potential of energy sources, wind turbines have a median value of between 12 and 11 (gCO2eq/kWh) depending on whether off or onshore turbines are being assessed. While wind farms may cover a large area, they are compatible with many land uses such as farming and grazing, as only small areas of turbine foundations and infrastructure are made unavailable for use.
Instead of capturing energy via the circular motion of a propeller, new designs like this one take advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of spinning vortices. Vorticity has long been considered the enemy of architects and engineers, who actively try to design their way around these whirlpools of wind. And for good reason: With enough wind, vorticity can lead to an oscillating motion in structures, which, in some cases, like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, can cause their eventual collapse.