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Introduction to Wind Turbines

Tapping wind power is one of the oldest tricks in the books. Wind moved our boats across the seven seas, driving trade networks and discovery. On land, windmills rotated for hundreds of years pumping water and grinding grain. In modern times we can harness wind to make electricity.

microgrid history danish windmill

A wind turbine generator requires a stream of wind (7+ mph) from a coastal breeze, mountain Chinook, or local trade wind. The rocky mountains, great plains, and some coastal areas come to mind for wind power potential.

Most wind power systems involve DC generators and a battery bank, and are a straight forward application for off grid users. They combine well in hybrid power systems that include solar panels, thermal generators, or hydro where available. Industrial grade wind turbines will be inverted to AC power and connected to the power grid.

Horizontal axis (axial flow) wind turbines are the most dominant design in the wind power market today, with two to four blades facing head on into the wind stream. Sizes range from small home units that will generate a few kilowatts,on up to full scale industrial units in excess of 1 Megawatt. One of the earliest wind pioneers was Marcellus Jacobs, who designed a 3 blade turbine that was ahead of its time. The Jacobs Wind Turbine could crank out in the neighborhood of 20 kilowatts.

Vertical axis wind turbines exist but are less common in the market place. They rotate on a vertical shaft and take the flow tangentially, as in the Darrieus design of days of old. The Darrieus design was compact and easy to install, though output and efficiency was not always good. Future designs coming down the pipes may produce better results.

Mathematically speaking, the amount of electricity that can be generated is proportional to the wind velocity cubed. The difference between a 7 mph wind source vs. 17 mph is huge. When installing our wind turbine systems, then, they should be as high off the ground as possible. This reduces the effects of trees, structures, and other land based obstructions on the velocity of the wind.

Also keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much wind. Aerodynamic stresses can get out of hand during big storms, and so a good wind turbine must include some mechanism to come off line or respond during these overloaded conditions.

If you have relatively good wind patterns, then a wind power system may be a good way to help meet your energy needs. They work nicely with solar photovoltaics and thermal generators in a DC combination power system. Not too mention the cost of fuel is zero!

MicroGrid Living

- MicroGrid Power Systems
- Benefits of the MicroGrid
- Running on DC Electricity
- Things to Think About
- Sizing Your Microgrid Power System
- Energy Conservation Strategies
- Hybrid Power Systems

MicroGrid Solar Power

- Solar Power Applications
- Photovoltaic Solar Panels
- Increasing Solar Panel Performance
- Mounting PV Solar Panels
- Solar Power Tracking Systems
- One Axis Solar Panel Tracking (Passive)
- Solar Power Cost & Payback
- Sizing your Solar Power System

MicroGrid Power Devices

- Wind Turbines
- Wood Burner Systems
- Thermal Power Systems
- DC Thermal Generators
- Hydro Turbines

MicroGrid History

- Nikola Tesla Source of Human Energy
- Nikola Tesla Energy from the Medium
- James Watt & the Steam Engine
- Marcellus Jacob Wind Turbine

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