This version of is not compatible.

Non-compatible browsers, in addition to preventing you from using all of the webpage’s features, are slower and present security risks.

We recommend that you update your version of your browser now, or that you access the page using another compatible browser.

Go to content
Press enter to display the menu content Press enter to display the language options Press enter to display the font size options

Main Home

Page saved correctly as favourite

How is electricity generated (Part 2)

11 Noviembre 2017
El poder del viento - Cómo se produce la energía eléctrica Parte 2

It is impossible to live on fresh air… Or is it? Wind power is one of the cleanest methods of generating electricity. Here we will explain how wind is transformed into electricity to reach your home.

Wind is a force of Nature and humans have been taking advantage of it from time immemorial. It was the engine used by boats to reach new ports and it is what prompted the blades on old windmills to turn.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that wind energy became relatively important as a source of clean and renewable electricity.

In recent decades, wind parks have appeared dotted around the landscapes all around the world and wind turbines have become true symbol of sustainability and efficiency. Spain, together with Denmark and Holland, is one of the biggest producers of wind power.

What would Don Quixote think if he saw his Castilla-La Mancha brimming with these modern-day wind giants?

How is wind power generated?

It is not easy to summarise, but we will give it a go: the force of the wind on three-blade windmills creates a mechanical energy that is transferred to a series of copper wires, where the electricity is generated.

And more specifically, what actually transforms the wind into energy are the so-called aerogenerators or wind turbines, by integrating an electric generator inside with its control and grid connection systems.

Spain, together with Denmark and Holland, is one of the biggest producers of wind power

What is wind?

Or, thinking about it, perhaps we have gone too fast and skipped a key question: Where does wind come from?

It is something so common that we don’t even ask ourselves how it is generated. Greek mythology attributed wind control to Aeolus, keeper of the winds, but science tells us that it is caused by the effects of the Sun on the Earth.

Between 1% and 2% of solar radiation absorbed by the planet ends up as wind. This is because the earth’s crust transfers a large amount of solar energy into the air, causing this to heat up, become less dense and expand. At the same time, cooler and heavier air -from the seas, rivers and oceans- starts moving to take the place left by the warm air.

Wind is simply air in motion. Air masses moving from high-atmospheric areas to other lower pressure areas at speeds proportional to the pressure differences between the two areas (the greater the difference, the more the wind blows).

Where should wind parks be installed?

In general terms, air turbines are normally located in coastal areas. This is because of the amount of thermal currents generated between land and water. They are also often installed on continental plains and mountainous areas, which tend to be high-wind areas.

But one thing is flying a kite, and another is generating energy. For the latter, we need winds blowing between 10-14 km/h and 90 km/h. If we fall short on most days (or we exceed these), this is not the right place for a wind farm.

There are also a series of essential requirements in order to install a park:

  • Over 2,000 hours of wind per year (equivalent to 83 days of non-stop wind).
  • It is essential to respect the fauna in the area, establishing a clearance area for birds to pass between the air turbines.
  • The nearest urban centre must be more than 1 km away, to avoid acoustic pollution.
  • The installation of wind parks on land protected from development is prohibited.
  • The wind park cannot interfere with the surrounding electromagnetic signals, since television, radio or telephone lines could be affected.

From the sky to your home

The wind blows, the windmill blades spin at full speed… and you have clean and pure electricity. But, how does it get to your home?

This process begins with a transformer that increases that electricity by more than four times its original, to then send it via overhead lines to a power substation, where the power is once again increased.

Now all that energy simply has to be sent to your home via the conventional power grid.

The future of wind energy

Despite its widespread installation, wind energy is still a source in development. Onshore wind power is still the most well-known, but it is important to remember that the earth’s oceans are so much bigger than the land area.

In recent years, offshore or marine wind power has been developed: windmill platforms out at sea.

These facilities have a promising future. They have a longer useful life than onshore ones and they end up producing more energy since wind speeds out at sea are more constant.

The future is for offshore or marine wind power; windmills located out at sea

We will look into other aspects of sources of energy in future chapters of this short course. Don’t’ skip class!

Click here to read the first edition >

And click here to know all about photovoltaic solar energy >

[literal.blog.accesibilidad.formulario.busqueda]

Recent posts

How do solar panels work? How to change my electricity or gas rate How do LED light bulbs work and how long do they last? The best cities for electric bikes What do the labels on appliances mean?

One Luz

Up