Why Wind Energy has Difficulty with Black Starts
“Why does wind energy have difficulty with getting up after a blackout?”
When energy systems suffer from a blackout, black starts are used to make them come online again. However, wind energy has difficulty with black starts this since a gust may not be blowing at the necessary start times.
Why Brazil Should Develop Offshore Wind Energy Infrastructure in its South
“Why should Brazil develop off-shore wind energy in its southern states?”
The nation of Brazil is a behemoth. Taking up half of the land and population of South America, it needs a vast amount of energy. And to make it sustainable, it should seek to maximize all of the resources available to it. One promising technology is off-shore wind. Since the Southern states by Porto Alegre have some of the highest offshore wind speeds, it would only make sense for Brazil to Develop Offshore Wind Energy Infrastructure there.
Image credit http://latinamericanscience.org
A New Design for Hurricane Resistant Wind Turbines
“How can we make turbines dedicated to withstanding hurricanes?”
Although offshore wind turbines can generate much greater amounts of energy than normal during hurricanes, the storm conditions can be disastrous to their structural integrity. This has prompted researchers from the University of Virginia, University of Illinois, University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Sandia National Laboratories to come up with a new design. Taking design inspiration from palm trees, the so-called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor Wind Turbine used downward facing blades that can move flexibly with the advent of strong winds. These blades are also made out of lighter material and the turbines have a simpler construction, allowing for easier assembly. Testing on these units will begin in the U.S State of Colorado this Summer, hopefully with exciting results.
“How can we tie wind energy to energy storage?”
Wind energy has long been one of the reigning champions of renewable energy. However, during peak generation, much of the new power made goes wasted. So how can we use our engineering mindsets to solve this problem? Well, if we take a page from the recent developments in Solar+Storage Systems, and attach battery systems to wind farms? This is known as Wind-Plus-Storage and is one of the hottest topics in renewable energy in 2018.
Big companies buying large amounts of wind energy
“Why are big companies buying large amounts of wind energy?”
There is a sustainable revolution going on, and it is being done by some of the least likely actors. Large companies such as Google, Amazon, and Walmart are beginning to purchase large swaths of wind energy to power their data centers and offices! Their reason? Because wind energy has achieved grid parity in some areas, it makes more sense to power your operations through renewable energy! This will increase the amount of sustainable energy on the grid and might convince more citizens to make the switch
The wind turbines on the Eiffel tower
“Is renewable energy becoming so popular that even the Eiffel tower is starting to use it?”
Interest in renewable energy is skyrocketing around the world. Investors have taken note that prices have fallen so low in many areas that renewables are now cheaper than their pollutive non-renewable counterparts. In fact, renewable energy is becoming so popular that even national monuments are starting to use them. As of 2015, The Eiffel tower in Paris, France has become outfitted with two wind turbines to increase power generation. These turbines utilize a vertical axis design that is 5.2 meters in height and 3.2 meters in width which can be expected to produce 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year!
Dual rotor wind turbines
“Could we make wind turbines more efficient by adding a second rotor?”
The wind turbine is one of the finest inventions that humanity has conjured. It is simply amazing how these machines can take in the kinetic energy of the wind and transfer it into power to be used by humans. However, the designs of these machines often come with a problem. The rotor of the turbine, one of the most important components of the device, disrupts the surrounding wind, inducing turbulence and lowering the amount of energy to be obtained. So how could we use our engineering mindsets to solves this problem? Well, Aerospace Engineers Anupam Sharma and Hui Hu of Iowa State University made a thorough investigation on this problem, and discovered that one way to solve this problem is actually to add a second rotor to the turbine! This would not only increase the amount of energy absorbed, but also prevent much of the unwanted turbulence. This team is currently working on optimizing the design, such as the location of the turbine, the direction it should take, the size, and what kind of airfoil the dual rotor wind turbine should have.
Why wind turbines placed at higher altitudes
“Why are wind turbines placed at higher altitudes?”
Wind turbines are a very common sight nowadays. However, if you look closely, you can notice a recurring pattern: such edifices seem to be disproportionately placed at higher altitudes. Why is this so? Well, we simply have to analyze the physics and engineering surrounding the decision. When the planet’s wind collides with solid objects, turbulence will generated, disrupting wind flow and inducing a lower speed. The closer the wind is to the ground, the closer it will be to solid objects, causing more turbulence, and since the amount of energy that a wind turbine produces is contingent to the surrounding wind velocity, it would be only logical to place them at higher altitudes.
Why do wind turbines have only three blades?
“Why is it that wind turbines always seem to have three blades?”
Wind turbines can be seen everywhere nowadays, from the coasts of Brazil to the mountains of Scotland. Throughout these installations, they all seem to have one peculiar feature in common: only three blades are attached to the turbine. Why is it like this? Well, let’s use our engineering mindsets to figure this out. The more blades that a wind turbine has, the more torque, generating more electricity. However, each blade will come with its own particular weight and cost, so simply adding more would prove ineffective. If one were to create a performance vs cost analysis, they would find that the three blade design would come out as the most efficient! This little example is a great showcase for how engineering is not utterly based off the laws of physics but the nature of economics as well.