Wind energy (or wind power) is energy possessed by air current or wind, that can be used to generate electricity and perform other functions. This article discusses wind energy meaning, sources and examples.
Wind Energy Meaning: 7 Ways to Define Wind Energy
Wind energy is kinetic energy of moving air masses, which can be used for any of various purposes.
The alternative wind energy meaning below, makes reference to the sources of this type of energy;
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air currents, that can be derived from the Earth’s rotary motion, topographic influence, ocean dynamics, and solar intensity variations .
Aside sources, there are other factors that can be used to define wind energy. The following wind energy meaning is outlined on the basis of the uses of this type of energy;
Based on its sources, wind energy is renewable, and can be categorized together with solar energy, wave power, bioenergy and geothermal energy . This attribute is highlighted in the wind energy meaning that is given below;
The alternative wind energy meaning below, portrays wind energy based on the technologies that are used to harness it. Again, this perspective shows how wind energy is related to other renewable forms, which are harnessed using technologies like biorefineries, biomass-fired power plants, geothermal cogeneration systems, water dams and hydroelectric turbines, and solar panels.
The next wind energy meaning below, is an extension of the definition given above. It explains the principle by which wind energy is converted to electricity, and mentions some of the parts of a wind turbine that are involved in this conversion;
Wind energy is a type of renewable kinetic energy that is captured from air currents by the blades of a wind turbine, which spin a rotor to produce mechanical energy that activates an electric generator to yield electricity, based on the principle of electromagnetism .
Lastly, a brief comparison between wind energy and fossil fuel energy is given in the wind energy meaning below;
Sources of Wind Energy
Sources of wind energy are; irregular atmospheric heating, Earth’s rotation, topographic variation, and ocean dynamics.
1). Irregular Heating and Solar Radiation (as Sources of Wind Energy)
Heating of the Earth’s atmosphere by the Sun, may occur through convection and radiation .
The temperature of atmospheric gases is directly proportional to pressure. This means that regions with high temperature due to atmospheric heating, also experience high pressure.
Also, temperature affects density distribution in the atmosphere, so that higher temperature occurs alongside lower density . This leads to mobilization of air masses, with hotter air ascending and cooler air descending.
These influences all show that solar heating has a significant effect on air current. Because solar radiation does not evenly heat all regions of the atmosphere at every given time, the imbalance causes continuous movement of air masses, leading to the production of wind energy.
Some climatic conditions like heat waves further explain how solar heating is a source of wind energy.
The influence of differential heating on the atmosphere, is increased by factors like the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion and global warming. These factors all increase the amount of heat in the atmosphere and can alter climatic patterns, leading to events like flooding, forest fires and desertification.
2). Earth’s Rotation
The rotation of the Earth on its axis influences air currents by deflecting them in various directions with respect to the North and South poles, in what is known as the Coriolis Effect .
This effect is the natural mechanism by which the Earth regulates its own climatic conditions through its rotation.
It is also important as a means of producing and controlling wind energy, as it has a direct influence on how air currents travel across the surface of Earth.
The Coriolis Effect influences not only wind dynamics, but also the seasonal tendencies and geochemical conditions in the Earth’s ecosystem.
3). Topographic Variation (as one of the Sources of Wind Energy)
Topographic variation is not a major source of wind energy. Rather, it is a modifier of wind energy.
The topographic features of the landscape affect how wind currents travel. This is because topographic features interact directly with wind energy either through deflection, absorption or reflection.
As a result of such interactions, wind energy is either amplified, redistributed, redirected or diminished by topography.
Effects of topography on wind energy distribution can be observed in many scenarios. In desert regions, the barrenness and relatively-homogenous nature of the landscape causes wind energy to be distributed with minimal obstruction. Coupled with the influence of differential atmospheric heating, air currents become strong, producing large amounts of energy.
Topographic influence on wind energy is also obvious in the role of winds in precipitation, whereby topographic features affect how winds transport water vapor from natural and artificial reservoirs to form clouds .
4). Ocean Dynamics
The relationship between oceans and wind currents is a reciprocal one, so that winds affect ocean dynamics, and oceans affect wind dynamics.
In the same vein, ocean dynamics can affect climatic and geomagnetic conditions, leading to wind formation.
Examples of Wind Energy
It is possible to identify wind energy examples based on the sources of wind energy.
Examples of wind energy are;
- Wind energy produced by differential atmospheric heating
- Wind energy from Earth’s rotation and Coriolis forces
- Wind energy modified by topographic features
- Wind energy produced by ocean dynamics
Wind energy is a type of renewable energy from moving air masses, which is harnessed using a wind turbine and can be used for power generation, transport and recreation.
Sources of wind energy are;
1. Irregular Heating and Solar Radiation
2. Earth’s Rotation
3. Topographic Variation
4. Ocean Dynamics
Examples of wind energy can be defined based on the sources.
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