By Sarah ParsonsPosted 09.16.2011 at 2:30 pm 45 Comments
Among homeowners, wind energy has never caught on, in large part because personal turbines are often noisy and inefficient. Most turbines need strong winds to turn a heavy central generator and create current, a design with two main disadvantages. First, the gears make a lot of noise. Plus, the generator is positioned at the blades’ center, which moves at one tenth the speed of the periphery. And less speed translates to less power.
Atlantic Wind Connection would link wind farms over hundreds of miles
By David RobertsPosted 04.28.2011 at 12:26 pm 16 Comments
During the last ice age, glaciers a mile high pushed several dozen cubic miles of rock, sand and debris into the ocean off North America’s mid-Atlantic coast, creating a broad shelf that extends up to 40 miles offshore. This long, flat stretch of seabed and the shallow, windy waters that cover it make the ideal spot for dozens of offshore wind farms—and if all goes well, the network that would link those turbines together and back to the coast will soon be in place.
Although the issues of climate change and crude oil have received plenty of media coverage over the past decade, scientists have been working for over a century to develop technology capable of replacing conventional fuels with renewable energy.
You could even argue that society has attempted to harness renewable energy since ancient times. Over the past 138 years, Popular Science has seen engineers adapt Dutch windmills into wind turbines, water mills into commercial tidal power facilities, and Roman hot spring-powered underfloor heating systems into geothermal electric power plants.
Seven miles off the coast of Kent, 100 380-foot turbines, spanning 22 square miles and representing two years of construction, have begun to power Britain. Bearing a price tag of 780 million pounds, this is the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
China is already the world's largest market for wind power, but it's not stopping with the onshore sites. A 102-megawatt wind farm is slated to hit full power this month in the Yangtze River delta near Shanghai, Technology Review reports. And that's just the beginning, as Chinese officials opened bids on creating three or four more offshore wind power projects that could generate 1,000 megawatts total.
Offshore wind power may soon cross national boundaries more easily than ever, based on news from the Copenhagen climate summit. Nine European nations announced plans for a "supergrid" in the North Sea that would allow them to connect Irish wind farms to continental Europe, or vice versa.
Wind turbines can be a radar operator's worst nightmare. By scrambling radar waves as blades spin faster or slower, large wind farms are sometimes capable of erasing airplanes from radar screens completely. But a Danish wind turbine company and a UK defense contractor may have found a solution by unveiling the first "stealth" wind-turbine blade last month.
Clean tech has seen a boost as the U.S. pours government funding into renewable energy, and China looks set to reap much of the benefits. Latest example: a Chinese wind-turbine company has just become the exclusive supplier for one of the largest wind-farm developments in the U.S.
Is it possible that wind power, when developed on a large scale, will disrupt natural wind patterns?
By PopSci StaffPosted 07.30.2008 at 7:33 pm 25 Comments
PopSci reader aaronmrosen wonders: "when it comes to wind farms, can too many props actually slow down the wind, and cause a change in weather patterns?"
What do you think? Wind power: good or evil? Discuss in the comments section.
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