Shooting the Breeze about Kinetic Wind Energy Generators

Windmills.  Just the word alone brings back memories of Amsterdam and wooden shoes.  Or that eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney Movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. Or Don Quixote on horseback, tilting at windmills as if they were giants. 

Today, windmills, now known as wind turbines, are much more sophisticated than those quaint old structures. They are a critical part of our future of alternative energy.  According to Alternative Energy News, wind power capacity growth will be reaching 447GW by year 2014. Also, wind energy is critical for the reduction in CO2 emissions; according to a recent report by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), by 2020, the EU wind industry would avoid 342 million tons of CO2, equivalent to 31% of the EU’s target of reducing emissions by 20%.

Durable, Efficient and Economical

From a recent National Renewal Energy Laboratory report, the U.S. wind potential from the most productive areas is almost 10,500 GW capacity at 80 meters (compared to only 35GW operating in the U.S. at the end of 2009). The potential is huge.  However, most of the wind potential comes from the windy central regions – North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Also, many wind farms are placed offshore in the ocean. Unfortunately, wind turbines need to be put where the wind blows and often that is not a very accessible location.

Consequently, wind turbines need to be durable and easy-to-maintain. Also, they need to be economical to make to maximize their value.  Reliable and accurate data collection about operations, wind and weather forecasting are also necessary to help improve energy output. Wind turbines need a steady wind flow to function properly; when confronted with extreme conditions, their blades wear out very fast.

Motor Controls in a Flash

Motors are the workhouse of all industries and a critical component of most wind turbine designs.  Today engineers are being driven to increase the level of integrated automation in order to control performance, reduce downtime, improve safety, and improve efficiency, all while reducing costs. Also, today’s automated equipment are also capable of being controlled remotely with wireless data communication capability. Motor controllers and the microprocessors inside are becoming more intelligent, driving the need for the right Flash memory.

Spansion® NOR Flash memory is the perfect choice for these demanding applications due to its quality, reliability and long-term product support.  With fast access time to ensure a quick boot and high levels of interactivity to support real-time monitoring and diagnostics, the NOR Flash can respond to the specific requirements of these difficult-to-reach environments.

One thought on “Shooting the Breeze about Kinetic Wind Energy Generators

  1. One of the development engineers at Clipper Windpower turned me on to this cool interactive site for their Liberty turbine – http://www.libertyturbine.com/ – check it out if you want to learn more about these amazing machines. Among other things, the site shows how the winch built into the hub is used to change the enormous blades. We see a lot of Clipper Windpower’s turbine blades – up to 48m long – rolling through Austin on the way to wind farms on the Gulf coast. This technology is awesome to see in person.

    One of the challenges faced by the industry is that wind generation sites tend to be located far from existing high capacity transmission lines. As transmission lines are built to the best wind producing regions I think we’ll see wind energy begin to displace more aging fossil fuel plants that consume scarce water and require increasingly expensive emission control equipment in order to remain in operation. For an industry where the lifetime of capital projects is measured in multiple decades, the rapid pace of change in wind power’s favor clearly shows the economics of power generation has reached a tipping point.

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