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The amount of electricity generated by wind increased almost 170 TWh (+11%) in 2020, similar to growth in 2019 and the highest of all power generation technologies in 2020. Wind remains the primary non-hydro renewable technology, generating 1,592 TWh, almost as much as all the others combined.
What to expect today:
Understanding wind power
Innovative wind projects around the world
Understanding wind power
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 thus generating electricity.
Wind Energy growth in the US v/s China
Record-breaking wind turbine installations in 2021, primarily in the Central and Midwest regions, have increased US wind energy generation to 135.1 GW. Whereas on the other hand, China had installed 328 GW wind capacity by the end of 2021.
China built more offshore wind turbines in 2021 than every other country did in the past five years. It installed 55.8 GW worth of turbines in 2021, beating its own 2020 record of 52 GW— a 19.4% increase. In 2022, China currently has 344 GW worth of wind turbine electrical generation. During the same period, the US grew by approximately 12.5 GW for a total capacity of 135 GW.
Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy
Wind energy offers many advantages, which explains why it's one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. With benefits, also comes the challenges. These are the benefits of wind power and some of the challenges companies are working towards:
cost-effective: It costs around 1–2 cents per kilowatt-hour after the production tax credit
clean fuel source and sustainable: It doesn't create pollution
Untapped potential: Over the past 10 years, US wind power capacity has grown 15% per year with plans to grow further in the coming years
lower down the costs: Even though the cost of wind power has decreased in the past, it must be able to compete economically with the lowest-cost source of electricity
unpredictable: the biggest challenge of wind power is its unpredictable nature. One can't really know the accurate amount of electricity it will generate
good wind power plants located at remote locations: Transmission lines must be built to bring the electricity from the wind farm to the city
noise and aesthetic pollution: Although wind energy harms the environment less than others, concern exists over the noise pollution and visual impacts to the landscape
Innovative projects around the world
Using artificial intelligence to predict wind power
French utility Engie SA announced that it will use Google’s AI-powered wind-prediction capabilities to optimize operations of its German wind assets. The pilot program is an extension of Google’s in-house work that it says allows it to capture higher revenues by scheduling hourly wind-power commitments to the grid up to one day in advance. For Engie, the first and most obvious application for Google’s AI is to better understand what the utility might expect from wind patterns in the future. This is fundamentally about averting risk. Predicting a day and a half out will allow Engie to plan for when wind is available and when it is not. It should allow the utility to better schedule its other generators in order to meet demand when wind supply is low. (Read our previous article on a similar topic here)
Robots building wind turbines
X-Laboratory, a company that sells software and robotics systems to wind turbine construction companies, has equipped giant cranes on their ships to be controlled remotely. As a start, new ships of Jan De Nul, one of the world’s biggest installers of offshore wind will use X-Laboratory’s system to control a giant claw that will help compensate for any unexpected movements in the water. The technology could cut the total time to install a wind farm by more than 25% due to its ability to work in windier conditions. The US offshore wind pipeline grew 24% in 2021, with 35 GW of wind energy in various stages of development. There are 15 projects in the U.S. offshore pipeline that have reached the permitting phase, and eight states have set offshore wind energy procurement goals totaling 39 GW by 2040.
Bahrain World Trade Center 1 and 2
The BWTC has set a technological precedent that will create new standards in sustainable architecture. It is the first commercial building to fully integrate large-scale wind turbines into its design. The two towers of the Bahrain World Trade Center are connected by three aero-bridges and each bridge has a hard wind turbine attached to it. Taking advantage of its location that harnesses the sea breeze, the power generated provides up to 15% of the office towers’ electricity needs.
Bladeless wind turbines
The PowerPod is a prototype small-scale wind turbine designed specifically to work in towns and cities. Its design is intended to collect incoming air from 360 degrees and focus it into an internal blade. The blade is contained entirely within the stationary shell, making it safe for kids, pets, and wildlife. Airflow is intended to be collected by the exterior of the pod and focused on a circular blade. PowerPods are still in the early design phase and yet to be manufactured.
Recommendations from the team
Energy.gov - Quiz: Test Your Wind Energy IQ
Undecided with Matt Ferrell - The Future of Solid State Wind Energy - No More Blades (13 min video)
Tech Insider - 16 Inventions Getting Us Off Fossil Fuels (7 min video)