What is Wind Energy?
Wind is used to produce electricity using the kinetic energy created by air in motion. This is transformed into electrical energy using wind turbines or wind energy conversion systems. Wind first hits a turbine’s blades, causing them to rotate and turn the turbine connected to them. That changes the kinetic energy to rotational energy, by moving a shaft which is connected to a generator, and thereby producing electrical energy through electromagnetism.
Wind has been actively used for centuries, for different purposes, including by windmills for milling wheat and pumping water, by sails to propel ships, and by wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind power is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies. Incentives and usage is on the rise worldwide, in part because costs are falling. Global installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore has increased by a factor of almost 75 in the past two decades, according to IRENA’s (International Renewable Energy Agency) latest data.
WIND ENERGY IN THE WORLD
Wind turbines first emerged more than a century ago. Following the invention of the electric generator in the 1830s, engineers started attempting to harness wind energy to produce electricity. Wind power generation took place in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1887 and 1888, but modern wind power is considered to have been first developed in Denmark, where horizontal-axis wind turbines were built in 1891 and a 22.8-metre wind turbine began operation.
Wind-turbine capacity has increased over time. In 1985, typical turbines had a rated capacity of 0.05 megawatts (MW) and a rotor diameter of 15 meters. Today’s new wind power projects have turbine capacities of about 2 MW onshore and 3–5 MW offshore. The average capacity of wind turbines increased from 1.6 MW in 2009 to 2 MW in 2014. The capacity jumped from 7.5 gigawatts (GW) in 1997 to 564 GW in 2018. Production of wind electricity doubled between 2009 and 2013, and in 2016 wind energy accounted for 16% of the electricity generated by renewables.
Regions with a high potential for wind energy include North America, East Europe and Russia, Africa, South America, West Europe, Asia and Oceania. Based on this ordering, North America, East Europe and Russia and Africa account for 66% of the global potential for wind energy.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Because wind occurs continuously on our planet, it represents an infinite, renewable, clean and environment-friendly source of energy. There are no obstacles to humans’ transferring it to the system and using it. Its key benefits over other sources of energy are that wind energy is a sustainable energy source; it creates no emissions; it involves no fuel costs; and the cost of the initial investment and the per unit cost are declining steadily.
Wind energy is gaining in value thanks to advances in technology and R&D, while preserving ecological balance as it is harmless to the environment. Based on the Paris Agreement, goals have been established to maintain global temperature increase below 2 degrees. And wind power, which can produce energy with zero carbon emission, is key to attaining those goals. Electricity generated by wind power has also paved the way for export of electricity under the Kyoto Protocol.
WIND ENERGY IN TURKEY
In Turkey, the best areas for harvesting wind energy are – based on annual average values – the coastlines, highlands, mountaintops or open areas. The most powerful annual mean wind speeds in open areas were measured along the western coastlines of Turkey, around the Marmara Sea, and in Antakya.
Wide areas with moderate wind power are available across central regions of Turkey. Based on wind potential at 50 meters of elevation, the Aegean, Marmara and East Mediterranean regions have high-potential wind areas.
The first wind turbine in Turkey was installed in 1998. However, the first turbines were quite limited in terms of generation and capacity, and the first serious investment was made only 7 years after; in 2005, new legislation incentivizing wind power was enacted which stimulated the erection of new wind turbines. However, the current legislation and incentives in Turkey remain fairly below the wind power potential of the country.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WIND POWER
MISCONCEPTION-1: “WIND POWER IS NOT A CONTINUOUS SOURCE OF ENERGY.”
The wind map of Turkey suggests that it is possible to generate electricity from wind power in Turkey almost the entire year.
MISCONCEPTION-2: “WIND POWER HARMS WILDLIFE, CAUSES DEATH OF BIRDS.”
A wind power plant can only be authorized based on a meticulous review of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports. It is a scientifically-proven fact that birds normally avoid collisions and divert from flying across wind turbines.
MISCONCEPTION-3: “WIND TURBINES CAUSE NOISE POLLUTION.”
With the advances in technology, a wind turbine creates as much noise as a refrigerator at a distance of 300 meters. In fact, the sound of wind blowing in remote rural areas often surpass the noise from turbines.
MISCONCEPTION-4: “WIND TURBINES HARM FARMING.”
On the contrary, wind power plants occupy a mere one percent of the land area in which it has been installed. The rest of the land can be used for farming, forestry or similar other purposes. Because wind turbines produce zero waste, the soil, lakes and streams remain unpolluted. Because the use of water is not needed, the water saved can be diverted for better uses, such as farming or human consumption.
MISCONCEPTION-5: “WIND TURBINES GENERATE ELECTROMAGNETISM HARMFUL TO HUMAN HEALTH.”
The electromagnetic impact of a wind power plant is very low, and can affect a negligibly small area. Measurements have shown that the magnetism caused by the mechanism is barely detectable at the turbine base, corresponding to a tenth of the electromagnetism generated by a blow dryer.