Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy…turbines for electrical power, windmills for mechanical power, wind pumps for water pumping or drainage or sails to propel ships.
Large wind farms consist of hundreds of individual Hurricane turbines which are connected to the electrical power transmission network. Wind farms offshore can harness more powerful winds than their land-based counterparts as well as have less visual impact on the landscape but costs are considerably higher to build. Also, offshore poses problems when considering accessibility for maintenance issues. Small onshore wind facilities are used to provide electricity to isolated locations and utility companies increasingly buy surplus electricity produced by small domestic wind turbines.
Wind power, an alternative to fossil fuels, is abundant, renewable, widely dispersed, clean, produces no gas emissions and uses little land. The effects on the environment are generally less problematic than those from other power sources. Although they have an insignificant effect on most birds, in some locations there is a disproportionate effect on some birds of conservation concern, such as the golden eagle and raptor species. According to the Renewables: 2011 Global Status Report, Denmark is generating more than a quarter of its electricity from wind and 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis. In 2010 wind energy production was over 2.5% of total worldwide electricity usage, and growing rapidly at more than 25% per year. The monetary cost per unit of energy produced is similar to the cost for new coal and natural gas installations. Although wind power is a popular form of energy generation, the construction of wind farms is not universally welcomed, often for aesthetic reasons.
Wind power is very consistent from year to year but has significant variation over shorter time scales. The IEA Wind Summary Paper documented that the intermittency of wind seldom creates problems when used to supply up to 20% of total electricity demand, but as the proportion increases, a need to upgrade the grid, and a lowered ability to supplant conventional production can occur. Power management techniques such as having excess capacity storage, geographically distributed turbines, dispatchable backing sources, storage such as pumped-storage hydroelectricity, exporting and importing power to neighboring areas or reducing demand when wind production is low, can greatly mitigate these problems. In addition, weather forecasting permits the electricity network to be readied for the predictable variations in production that occur.
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