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The Basic Principles of Wind Power

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We wish to introduce you all to the world of wind power by means of this article; explain how it works and how it has developed up to the present. This is timely as we are dealing with the renewable that has experienced the most development in recent years, both in Spain and worldwide.

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Wind power was used inancient times. It was exploited for irrigation, used for grinding grain by windmills and moved sailing ships for maritime transport. But, do we actually know what wind power is?

Wind power is energy that harnesses the wind. It is produced  as a result of temperature differences among the air masses that make up the earth’s atmosphere, and therefore, it is a consequence of the sun. As air found in the hottest area expands towards the areas where air is colder and denser, we can say that wind originates indirectly from solar energy.

Despite the fact that a mere 2% of solar energy becomes wind, the possibilities that wind power has are enormous.

Wind is a permanent and renewable resource as the planet air currents are constantly being formed all over the planet.Despite the fact that only 1%-2% of solar energy becomes wind, and that wind turbines only take advantage of this resource at speeds between 5 and 25 m/s, the possibilities that wind power has are enormous.

Now it’s time to ask, just how does wind become wind power? It is possible thanks to wind turbines. These are made up of a nacelle, the blades, hub and the rest of the components that make up the turbine, as well as the different guidance, control, support and grounding systems. If we descend down further from the turbine to the ground we come to the tower,which is the component that places the turbine at its optimum height according to the wind. Let’s take a look at all of these components one by one and explain them simply and clearly.

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The blades: These are the most important component that allows the wind to be captured and then its power to be transmitted to the hub which is where the three blades are joined to the main axle of the turbine. This has the task of supporting the blades and transferring the force to the rotation axis. The rotor is the name for the whole assembly consisting of the blades and the hub.

Right after this, we find the nacelle which can be called the control center of the wind turbine because inside this we find the electric generator that, as its very name indicates, generates electricity from wind energy. In addition, the control system is found in the nacelle which monitors the conditions of the wind turbines and controls the yaw drive. Last of all, here we also have the electric fan that is used as a cooling unit.

The main objective of the tower is to support the wind turbine sufficiently high enough to capture wind at greater speeds.

Finally, both the rotor blades as well as the nacelle are supported by a tower, whose main function is to support the wind turbine sufficiently high enough to capture wind at greater speeds with the least amount of turbulence. Power produced by each wind turbine is connected to a substation by a network of subterranean cables, and it’s from this substation that power is injected into the electric grid.

As little as ten years ago, the type of wind turbine that was installed in Spain had    an output of 850kW, a 55 meter-high tower and rotor blades 52 to 58m in diameter. Today, the wind turbines that are built range from 2MW and 3.5MW in terms of output and have towers of 90 to 140m in height. Their production is four or six times higher than previous wind turbines.

Abengoa has been developing projects related to the wind power sector for more than 31 years (since 1985 to be precise), and has completed more than 232 MW all over the world.

Fernando Agra Mallo, Wind Technology Expert.

Fernando Agra Mallo, Wind Technology Expert.

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