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Title-Wind as alternative energy source
Where does Wind Energy come From?

All renewable energy (except tidal and geothermal power), and even the energy in fossil fuels, ultimately comes from the sun. The sun radiates 174,423,000,000,000 kilowatt hours of energy to the earth per hour. In other words, the earth receives 1.74 x 10 17 watts of power .About 1 to 2 per cent of the energy coming from the sun is converted into wind energy. That is about 50 to 100 times more than the energy converted into biomass by all plants on earth.Temperature Differences Drive Air Circulation

The regions around equator, at 0° latitude are heated more by the sun than the rest of the globe. These hot areas are indicated in the warm colours, red, orange and yellow in this infrared picture of sea surface temperatures (taken from a NASA satellite, NOAA-7 in July 1984). Hot air is lighter than cold air and will rise into the sky until it reaches approximately 10 km (6 miles) altitude and will spread to the North and the South. If the globe did not rotate, the air would simply arrive at the North Pole and the South Pole, sink down, and return to the equator.

  The Coriolis Force
Since the globe is rotating, any movement on the Northern hemisphere is diverted to the right, if we look at it from our own position on the ground. (In the southern hemisphere it is bent to the left). This apparent bending force is known as the Coriolis force. (Named after the French mathematician Gustave Gaspard Coriolis 1792-1843). It may not be obvious to you that a particle moving on the northern hemisphere will be bending towards the right.

Consider this red cone moving southward in the direction of the tip of the cone. The earth is spinning, while we watch the spectacle from a camera fixed in outer space. The cone is moving straight towards the south.

Kamera låst til sidenNote that the red cone is veering in a curve towards the right as it moves. The reason why it is not following the direction in which the cone is pointing is, of course, that we as observers are rotating along with the globe.

Kamera låst til Nordpolen Here we show the same image with the camera locked on to the globe.
Set fra Nordpolen Here we show the same image,with the camera fixed in outer space, while the earth rotates.
The Coriolis force is a visible phenomenon. Railroad tracks wear out faster on one side than the other. River beds are dug deeper on one side than the other. (Which side depends on which hemisphere we are in: In the Northern hemisphere moving particles are bent towards the right). In the Northern hemisphere the wind tends to rotate counterclockwise (as seen from above) as it approaches a low pressure area. In the Southern hemisphere the wind rotates clockwise around low pressure areas. On the next page we shall see how the Coriolis force affects the wind directions on the globe.
more about Coriolis effect
  Wind Energy Resources:
  Global Winds
    Global CirculationHow the Coriolis Force Affects Global Winds The wind rises from the equator and moves north and south in the higher layers of the atmosphere. Around 30°; latitude in both hemispheres the Coriolis force prevents the air from moving much farther. At this latitude there is a high pressure area, as the air begins sinking down again. As the wind rises from the equator there will be a low pressure area close to ground level attracting winds from the North and South. At the Poles, there will be high pressure due to the cooling of the air. Keeping in mind the bending force of the Coriolis force, we thus have the following general results for the prevailing wind direction:
    Prevailing Wind Directions
Latitude 90-60°N 60-30°N 30-0°N 0-30°S 30-60°S 60-90°S
Direction NE SW NE SE NW SE

The size of the atmosphere is grossly exaggerated in the picture above (which was made on a photograph from the NASA GOES-8 satellite). In reality the atmosphere is only 10 km thick, i.e. 1/1200 of the diameter of the globe. That part of the atmosphere is more accurately known as the troposphere. This is where all of our weather (and the greenhouse effect) occurs.The prevailing wind directions are important when siting wind turbines, since we obviously want to place them in the areas with least obstacles from the prevailing wind directions. Local geography, however, may influence the general results in the table above, cf. the following parts.
    The Geostrophic Wind
    The Atmosphere (Troposphere)
The atmosphere around the globe is a very thin layer. The globe has a diameter of 12,000 km. The troposphere, which extends to about 11 km (36,000 ft.) altitude, is where all of our weather, and the greenhouse effect occurs.

Troposphere 1Troposphere 2

On the picture you can see a stretch of islands 300 km (200 miles) across, and the approximate height of the troposphere. To look at it at a different scale: If the globe were a ball with a diameter of 1.2 metres (4 ft.), the atmosphere would only be 1 mm (1/25") thick.

    The Geostrophic Wind
    The winds we have been considering on the previous parts on global winds are actually the geostrophic winds. The geostrophic winds are largely driven by temperature differences, and thus pressure differences, and are not very much influenced by the surface of the earth. The geostrophic wind is found at altitudes above 1000 metres (3300 ft.) above ground level. The geostrophic wind speed may be measured using weather balloons
    Surface Winds
    Winds are very much influenced by the ground surface at altitudes up to 100 metres. The wind will be slowed down by the earth's surface roughness and obstacles , as we will learn in a moment. Wind directions near the surface will be slightly different from the direction of the geostrophic wind because of the earth's rotation (cf. the Coriolis force ). When dealing with wind energy, we are concerned with surface winds, and how to calculate the usable energy content of the wind.
    Local Winds:

Although global winds are important in determining the prevailing winds in a given area, local climatic conditions may wield an influence on the most common wind directions. Local winds are always superimposed upon the larger scale wind systems, i.e. the wind direction is influenced by the sum of global and local effects. When larger scale winds are light, local winds may dominate the wind patterns.

Sea Breezes

Sea breeze cartoon Land masses are heated by the sun more quickly than the sea in the daytime. The air rises, flows out to the sea, and creates a low pressure at ground level which attracts the cool air from the sea. This is called a sea breeze. At nightfall there is often a period of calm when land and sea temperatures are equal.

At night the wind blows in the opposite direction. The land breeze at night generally has lower wind speeds, because the temperature difference between land and sea is smaller at night.

The monsoon known from South-East Asia is in reality a large-scale form of the sea breeze and land breeze, varying in its direction between seasons, because land masses are heated or cooled more quickly than the sea.

    Mountain Winds

Mountain regions display many interesting weather patterns. One example is the valley wind which originates on south-facing slopes (north-facing in the southern hemisphere). When the slopes and the neighbouring air are heated the density of the air decreases, and the air ascends towards the top following the surface of the slope. At night the wind direction is reversed, and turns into a downslope wind.

If the valley floor is sloped, the air may move down or up the valley, as a canyon wind.

Winds flowing down the leeward sides of mountains can be quite powerful: Examples are the Foehn in the Alps in Europe, the Chinook in the Rocky Mountains, and the Zonda in the Andes.

Examples of other local wind systems are the Mistral flowing down the Rhone valley into the Mediterranean Sea, the Scirocco, a southerly wind from Sahara blowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

    The Energy in the Wind:
    Air Density and Rotor Area
    A wind turbine obtains its power input by converting the force of the wind into a torque (turning force) acting on the rotor blades. The amount of energy which the wind transfers to the rotor depends on the density of the air, the rotor area, and the wind speed. Wind energy in a slice of airThe cartoon shows how a cylindrical slice of air 1 metre thick moves through the 2,300 m 2 rotor of a typical 1,000 kilowatt wind turbine. With a 54 metre rotor diameter each cylinder actually weighs 2.8 tonnes, i.e. 2,300 times 1.225 kilogrammes.
    Density of Air

The kinetic energy of a moving body is proportional to its mass (or weight). The kinetic energy in the wind thus depends on the density of the air, i.e. its mass per unit of volume.

In other words, the "heavier" the air, the more energy is received by the turbine.

At normal atmospheric pressure and at 15° Celsius air weighs some 1.225 kilogrammes per cubic metre, but the density decreases slightly with increasing humidity.

Also, the air is denser when it is cold than when it is warm. At high altitudes, (in mountains) the air pressure is lower, and the air is less dense.

    Rotor Area

A typical 1,000 kW wind turbine has a rotor diameter of 54 metres, i.e. a rotor area of some 2,300 square metres. The rotor area determines how much energy a wind turbine is able to harvest from the wind.

Since the rotor area increases with the square of the rotor diameter, a turbine which is twice as large will receive 2 2 = 2 x 2 = four times as much energy.

    Wind Turbines Deflect the Wind

Wind turbine in stream tube In reality, a wind turbine will deflect the wind, even before the wind reaches the rotor plane. This means that we will never be able to capture all of the energy in the wind using a wind turbine. We will discuss this later, when we get to Betz' Law.

In the image above we have the wind coming from the right, and we use a device to capture part of the kinetic energy in the wind. (In this case we use a three bladed rotor, but it could be some other mechanical device).

    The Stream Tube

The wind turbine rotor must obviously slow down the wind as it captures its kinetic energy and converts it into rotational energy. This means that the wind will be moving more slowly to the left of the rotor than to the right of the rotor.

Since the amount of air entering through the swept rotor area from the right (every second) must be the same as the amount of air leaving the rotor area to the left, the air will have to occupy a larger cross section (diameter) behind the rotor plane.

In the image above we have illustrated this by showing an imaginary tube, a so called stream tube around the wind turbine rotor. The stream tube shows how the slow moving wind to the left in the picture will occupy a large volume behind the rotor.

The wind will not be slowed down to its final speed immediately behind the rotor plane. The slowdown will happen gradually behind the rotor, until the speed becomes almost constant.

    The Air Pressure Distribution in Front of and Behind the Rotor
    Air pressure graph The graph to the left shows the air pressure plotted vertically, while the horizontal axis indicates the distance from the rotor plane. The wind is coming from the right, and the rotor is in the middle of the graph. As the wind approaches the rotor from the right, the air pressure increases gradually, since the rotor acts as a barrier to the wind. Note, that the air pressure will drop immediately behind the rotor plane (to the left). It then gradually increases to the normal air pressure level in the area.
    What Happens Farther Downstream?
    If we move farther downstream the turbulence in the wind will cause the slow wind behind the rotor to mix with the faster moving wind from the surrounding area. The wind shade behind the rotor will therefore gradually diminish as we move away from the turbine.
    Why not a Cylindrical Stream Tube?

Now, you may object that a turbine would be rotating, even if we placed it within a normal, cylindrical tube, like the one below. Why do we insist that the stream tube is bottle-shaped? Of course

Turbine within a cylindrical tube

you would be right that the turbine rotor could turn if it were placed in a large glass tube like the one above, but let us consider what happens:

The wind to the left of the rotor moves with a lower speed than the wind to the right of the rotor. But at the same time we know that the volume of air entering the tube from the right each second must be the same as the volume of air leaving the tube to the left. We can therefore deduce that if we have some obstacle to the wind (in this case our rotor) within the tube, then some of the air coming from the right must be deflected from entering the tube (due to the high air pressure in the right ende of the tube).

So, the cylindrical tube is not an accurate picture of what happens to the wind when it meets a wind turbine. This picture at the beggining of this part of the page i.e. the first picture under the subtitle "Wind Turbines Deflect the Wind "is the correct picture.