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Introduction to Alternative

Unit 2 – Wind

After completing this unit you will be
able to…
• Describe the potential energy available with
• Explain basic types of wind turbines,
applications, and how the energy is produced
from wind
• Determine the amount of energy from wind
obtained at a given area

• What potential
does wind hold as
an energy source

Wind Power
• Wind power has been growing at an average
rate of 25% per year, making wind the fastest
growing source of energy in the world since
• Wind turbines use moving air to generate
electricity by rotating propeller-like blades
around a rotor, the rotor turns the drive shaft,
which turns an electric generator

• Very good wind resources are found in most
regions of the United States, making wind
power a feasible source of electricity in a
variety of settings
– Small wind turbines, rated below 100 kilowatts,
are used to power individual homes
– Tens to hundreds, large or utility-scale wind
turbines, ranging from 100 kilowatts to one or two
megawatts, can be connected to the electricity
grid to form a wind farm that generates enough
electricity for an entire community

• Utility companies see wind farms as an
environmentally attractive way to generate
clean power for their customers, so the
number of wind farms in the U.S. today is
rapidly increasing
• Wind power contributes to a better
environment by producing clean power, a
stronger economy by creating wind power-
related employment, and greater energy
security by providing a domestic source of
History of Wind Power
Wind energy is not a new concept, but one that
has been around before the discovery of
• Wind energy has been around since ancient
times where it was used to power sail boats
• Later, wind energy was used, via wind
turbines, to grind wheat
• In the American West, wind power was used
for saw mills and pumps
• It is interesting to note
that the first wind
turbine used to
generate electricity was
built in 1888 in
Cleveland, Ohio
• This generator was a
multi-vane type with
144 vanes and weighed
some 40 tons
which includes information and several pictures of the wind generator
• In the late 1930’s and early
1940’s, propeller type wind
generators were developed
• After World War II the
research of wind generators
declined due to the low cost
of oil and its preference for
electricity generation
• Wind energy became of
interest again, though, with
the 1973 oil crisis
• Interest in wind energy
continues with research
and development
improving the
technology as is evident
by the reduction of the
cost for wind energy
• This cost went from 25
cents in 1980 to 5 cents
in 1996 for one kWh

Wind energy is attractive for
the following reasons
It has no CO2 emissions
The operation of wind turbines
leaves no dangerous residue
such as that from nuclear
There are minimal
decommissioning costs, and
the land occupied from wind
farms can be used for other
purposes such agricultural

• What are the basic
types of wind
turbines and
applications, and
how do they
produce energy

Wind Turbines
There are several different wind turbine
configurations including
 Vertical or horizontal axes lift-type
 Magnus effect wind plants
 Vortex wind plants
The more common drag and lift-type will be
discussed in this section

• Some early wind turbines
were the drag-type, where
wind is collected in “cups”
like a sail boat catches
wind in its sails
• Today this is accomplished
by using a Savonius rotor
which employs two or
more curved buckets
Click here to see a Savonius rotor

• Later came the development
of lift-type wind turbines
where the force generated is
90° to the direction the wind
is blowing
• There have been many
developments with lift-type
turbines, all of which can be
categorized as either vertical
or horizontal

• The vertical lift-type
has a shaft that axially is
perpendicular to the
direction of the wind
• Shown is an industrial
size Darrius design
Note the man located
bottom right for size

Possible applications of
Darrius turbines are
shown here where they
are placed along the
roadways using the
wind from passing
vehicles to generate

• The horizontal lift-type
design has a shaft that
axially is parallel to the
direction of the wind
• These are the
common, at least
today, wind turbines
we see across the

How a wind turbine works is relatively simple…

• Most modern wind turbines have
three blades, and operate facing
into the wind
• The wind turns the blades, which
spin a shaft, which connects to a
generator and makes electricity
• Big, efficient turbines can generate
up to 3.6 megawatts each
• One megawatt is enough to
provide power to about 300 or
more homes
Principles of Aerodynamics
• Although beyond the scope of this course,
there are several principles of aerodynamics
that are considered in the design of wind
• These concepts of aerodynamics are the same
principles used in the design of aircraft

• This figure illustrates
the basic aerodynamic
operating principles
• Wind passes over the
surfaces of the rotor
• It passes more rapidly
over the longer
(upper) side creating a
lower- pressure area
above the airfoil
• The pressure
differential between
top and bottom
surfaces results in a
force called
aerodynamic lift
• In an aircraft wing,
this force causes the
wing to "rise," lifting
the aircraft off the
• Since the blades of a
wind turbine are
constrained to move
in a plane with the
hub as its center, the
lift force causes
• In addition to lift
force, a "drag" force
perpendicular to the
lift force impedes
rotor rotation
• A prime objective in
wind turbine design is
for the blade to have a
relatively high lift-to-
drag ratio
• This ratio can be
varied along the
length of the blade to
optimize the turbine’s
energy output at
various wind speeds
• How do we
determine the
amount of energy
available in our

Availability of Wind Energy
• If you captured all the wind energy available,
it would theoretically be around 3600 TW
• If you reduced this only to the wind energy
over land mass, it would go down to 400 TW
• Obviously we cannot cover all the land, but, if
we used only 10% of this, that would still
amount to 40 TW…
compared to the 7 TW used by humanity
• 40 TW compared to the 7 TW used by
humanity today…

• Of course this is very optimistic and

unrealistic because wind varies and
optimum conditions are rarely met…

• But you can see that there is great

potential for an alternative energy
source with wind
Residential Wind Generation
Residential wind generators are available
today and relatively reasonable as shown
Skystream 3.7™ costs approximately $12,000 to $15,000 to
purchase and install, although costs vary significantly
depending on your site. The generator itself costs $5,400.
Depending on the tower and installation costs, wind speed
average, rebates and local electricity costs, Skystream 3.7 can
pay for itself in as quickly as 5 years.

Information taken from the Skystream 3.7 spec sheet at


Power of a Wind Turbine
• The power of a wind turbine is proportional to
the cube of the applied wind velocity
• Because of this cubic relationship, the wind
conditions of an area are critical in the choice
of a site for energy generation from wind
• Anemometers measure wind conditions,
including velocity, which has to be converted
to wind power density data

You can roughly determine the power,
annual output (kWh/year), by using the

Annual Output = 0.01328 x D2 x V3

D2 is the diameter (ft) of the rotor squared

V3 is the average wind velocity (mph) cubed

For example…
Determining the annual output (kWh) of a
12 ft diameter (from the Skystream 3.7
specifications) wind turbine with average
wind velocity of 12.5 mph

Annual Output = 0.01328 x D2 x V3

= 0.01328 x 122 x 12.53
= 0.01328 x 144 x 1953
= 3735 kWh

Having enough average wind speed is the
primary concern in wind turbines
• The manufacturer’s power ratings of wind
turbines are typically based on optimum wind
velocities which may not be true for your area
• The average wind velocity for area can be
found from various internet sites similar to the
one below for Ohio

When looking at
wind charts as the
one from the noted
web page, be sure to
watch the height
from ground that the
speeds are recorded;
note this chart is at
30 meters

Works Cited
Da Rosa, A. V. (2005). Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Processes. Burlington, MA,
USA: Elsevier Inc.
Danish Wind Industry Association. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2008, from
US Department of Energy:
Research Institute for Sustainable Energy: