Since we just talked about wind energy today I thought it would be cool to share that we have our very own windmill power farm located not to far from. It is right outside the town of bloomington (town where Illinois State University is located). I actually pass it every time I drive down their. If you guys are ever taking a trip down south check it out. For more information look at this wiki article

Check out how COD is using wind and solar energy for their renewable energy program, saving energy right here at home!:

COD to Use Windmills, Solar Panels for Renewable Energy Program

Two windmills and four solar panels recently were installed on the roof of the Technical Education Center in preparation for College of DuPage’s new Renewable Energy Certificate program that will begin in fall 2010. Watch a video on the new Renewable Energy certificate program!

The 29-credit program, featuring classes in Electronics and Electro-Mechanical Technology, will prepare students to work with such emerging technologies as solar and wind energy. Karen Randall, dean of Business and Technology, said jobs in DuPage County are expected to grow by 10 percent over the next six years. “It is predicated that the nation’s supply of renewable energy will double in the next three years,” Randall said. “After completing this new certificate in Renewable Energy, students will gain the necessary skills to apply for these positions.”

The small windmills and solar panels will be used for educational purposes, as students in labs will work with the battery packs or “trainers” powered by the new equipment. Branislav Rosul, professor of Electronics Technology and Electro-Mechanical Technology, said the renewable energy initiative is part of President Barack Obama’s agenda. With proposed changes to how electricity is provided both in Illinois and across the nation, workers need to be ready to address the emerging technology. “When the need arrives, we will need qualified technicians who are ready to go to work,” Rosul said. “There is already a big interest in our new program. I have 15 students who are asking when it’s going to begin.”

The program, which was approved by the College’s Board of Trustees in December, is currently pending approval by the Illinois Community College Board. It’s part of a larger plan that will incorporate renewable energy education into several COD programs, Randall said. This includes a renewable energy lab that will serve students in the new program as well as other programs located in the TEC, which opened in 2009. For example, Randall said that students in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning program can use the lab when studying energy. LEED classes from the Architecture program can meet there to view various sources of alternative energy, and Automotive Technology students can use the lab to learn about fuel cells or battery storage. More equipment will be needed, she said, and the hope is to have the lab fully operational in fall 2011.

“We have a beautiful, modern space that provides an optimal training environment,” she said. “And we now have the capacity to increase our enrollment. For example, we have 125 to 150 students every term in electronics and electro-mechanical technology. This could triple if Illinois jumps on the bandwagon in terms of changing the way it produces energy.” By the end of 2012, Randall is planning to offer an associate’s degree in renewable energy. In addition, several “green” certificates are in the planning stages: a sustainable landscape certificate from the Horticulture program, an energy audit analysis certificate from HVAC, and a certificate incorporating green concepts from Interior Design. “We’re very excited about all of this,” Randall said. “Renewable energy is breathing new life into the electronics and manufacturing fields. And our programs are changing to be more modern and pick up on the new trends that are happening in this country.”

For more information, call (630) 942-2592 or e-mail: rosulb@cod.edu. More about the Electronics Technology program Caption: Branislav Rosul, professor of Electronics Technology and Electro-Mechanical Technology, stands in front of one of the windmills recently installed on the roof of the Technical Education Center in preparation for the College's new Renewable Energy Certificate, to be offered beginning fall 2010. (Photo by Rich Malec/College of DuPage) --By: Fatima Khan

Website: http://home.cod.edu/newsEvents/newsDetails.aspx?Channel=%2fChannels%2fCampus+Wide&WorkflowItemID=3312e6a2-c899-4a3e-9f89-006a60ad0529

What is Wind Energy?
At base level, wind energy is a form of solar energy. Radiation from the sun heats the earth and atmospheric air at different rates in different places. The difference in heat causes the air in earth's atmosphere to move since warmer air rises. The kinetic energy from this moving air can then be harnessed and converted into mechanical work.


How is it Harnessed?
Kinetic energy from wind is harnessed by wind turbines. Wind turbines have two basic shapes, the upright egg-beater style and the propeller style. The wind turns the propellers, which rotate a shaft connected to a gear box. The gear box is connected to a generator that converts this motion into electrical energy, which can be used to perform work. The generator usually feeds this electricity into power lines, and the electricity can then be used by the public. This is a basic picture of a typical wind turbine:
wtconfig.gif

How Much Energy can Wind Turbines Generate?
Wind turbines have different sizes, and they generate electricity accordingly. The following chart illustrates the typical size of a wind turbine by year and the amount of energy it was capable of producing:

wtgs1981_2000.gif



1981
1985
1990
1996
1999
2000
Rotor (meters)
10
17
27
40
50
71
Rating (KW)
25
100
225
550
750
1,650
Annual MWh
45
220
550
1,480
2,200
5,600
Wind energy is particularly useful for the energy needs of households, businesses, and schools - basically, buildings. According to some estimates, the average household in America consumes approximately 10,000 kWh of electricity annually. A 10 kW wind turbine, which is relatively small, can generate this much energy every year with average wind speeds of just 12 mph.

Example: A 250-kW turbine installed at the elementary school in Spirit Lake, Iowa, provides an average of 350,000 kWh of electricity per year, more than is necessary for the 53,000-square-foot school. Excess electricity fed into the local utility system earned the school $25,000 in its first five years of operation. The school uses electricity from the utility at times when the wind does not blow. This project has been so successful that the Spirit Lake school district has since installed a second turbine with a capacity of 750 kW. (For further information on this project, see at the Web site of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.)

(Above information taken from http://www.awea.org/faq/wwt_basics.html, May 11, 2010)


Benefits of Wind Energy

The wind cools us on a summer day, moves our sailboats, flies our kites and helps grow our gardens. It can also enhance our world’s security, help protect its beauty and improve the quality of air we breathe when used to power our homes and businesses.

Wind energy is clean. Electricity generated by wind turbines won’t dirty the air we breathe or emit pollutants like other energy sources—that means less smog, less acid rain and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Power plants are the largest stationary source of air pollution in the United States, emitting millions of tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides and carbon dioxide each year. These pollutants are believed to be the cause of global warming. Running a single 1-MW wind turbine can displace 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide in one year (equivalent to planting one square mile of forest).

Wind energy is cost competitive to other fuel sources (like natural gas) and it is the least expensive of all renewable energy sources. Because the fuel (wind) is free, wind energy can provide a stable long-term price for power production. Today's wind farms can generate electricity for less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour in many parts of the U.S., a price that is competitive with new coal- or gas-fired power plants. The cost is expected to continue to decline as the technology improves and the market for this source develops.

Wind energy is growing fast. It has been the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source for more than a decade with an average annual growth rate of over 20%. In 2008, the United States had a record breaking year by increasing generating capacity by 50%. With more than 25,170 MW of wind energy capacity installed in the U.S. today, wind power can generate enough to power more than 7 million average U.S.households (a fraction of what it could be providing). According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind energy in the United States could provide as much as 10,777 billion kWh annually—more than twice the electricity generated in the U.S.today.

Wind energy is renewable. As one of Mother Nature’s gifts, the wind is available and plentiful and won’t deplete our world’s natural resources.

Wind energy benefits society. Because it is a clean energy source, wind energy reduces costs associated with air pollution—both healthcare and environmental costs. And, its low operating costs and short construction lead times mean it can provide low cost, clean energy quicker and more conveniently than traditional power plants.

Wind energy is local. Wind projects keep more energy dollars in the communities where projects are located and provide a steady income through lease payments to the landowners. Wind projects also pay significant property taxes and state taxes each year and create local jobs. Unlike oil, the wind is not affected by international conflicts or embargoes, making it immune to supply problems or price shocks.

Wind energy is reliable and efficient. Unlike other power plants, wind energy systems require minimal maintenance and have low operating expenses. Wind turbines are very reliable and are available to generate electricity 99% of the time (on par with other generating sources).

– Adapted from information provided by the American Wind Energy Association, Global Wind 2008 Report and Renewable Energy Vermont. --By: Fatima Khan

Website: http://www.nrgsystems.com/AboutWind/BenefitsofWindEnergy.aspx




Next Generation Wind Turbines


Typical Wind Turbines have many inefficiencies that make their future as a main source of energy pretty bleak. The gear boxes contain moving parts, therefore they are prone to breaking and lose energy due to friction. They also need regular maintenance like oil changes to keep working. Another obstacle is that they need energy in order to start up and initiate the energy collecting process. Thankfully new advancements are being tested that will overcome these problems, allowing wind energy to ensure its spot in the race to solve the fuel crisis.

In the Netherlands they are testing out new wind turbines that have permanent magnets in them. Contrary to the electromagnets being used now, the permanent magnets require no start up energy from the grid. Electromagnets also need starter brushes and coils to work, so the permanent magnets are more efficient. In Noway they are testing turbine that have almost no moving parts, using a drive train instead of a gearbox. Gearboxes need energy and moving parts to get the blades up to a point where the generator can gather enough currant to produce energy. Drive trains can produce energy moving at the same speed as the blades (usually 8-20rpm). Before most generators needed thousands of rpm to generate energy, so this is a vast improvement. Overall these improvements should increase efficiency in wind turbines by up to 25%.

G.E.'s Blade Improvements


As one can imagine the bigger and longer the blades, the more wind energy can be produced. The problem is big blades are heavy and flexible, so large blades become more of a hassle than help. In some instances blades have been made so large that during high winds they will bend backwards and hit the tower. GE has devolped blades that overcome these obstacles to produce clean energy easier. By making blades that twist and curve backward about 8 feet the blades can absorb the wind without losing efficiency and harming the tower. During high winds the blade twist slightly, so they are able to gather as much wind as possible. Since large companies like GE are investing in improving wind energy, the technology will keep getting better.

-By Allison Basinger

Information from Popular Science Magazine, April 2010