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Introduction, History, and Theory of Wind Power

Thanh Dang, Undergraduate Student and M. H. Rashid, Fellow IEEE University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL 32514, USA

AbstractThis paper gives a brief history of wind turbines and what it typically used for. It also analyzes the theory of the wind turbine as well as the parts involved in a correct wind turbine, types of wind turbines, implementation on power systems, and possible advancements in wind power. Index TermsWind Turbines, Asynchronous rotating machines, DC motors, diodes, Electromagnetic fields, Verticalaxis wind turbine, Horizontal-axis wind turbine, transistors, renewable energy, wind energy

I. NOMENCLATURE AC Alternating Current BJ Bipolar Junction Transistor DC Direct Current E.M.F. Electromagnetic Field HAWT Horizontal-axis Wind Turbine IGBT Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor MOSFET Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor VAWT Vertical-axis Wind Turbine II. INTRODUCTION
Fig. 1, Energy Breakdown for the United States of America, in 2007 [1].

Out of the 7% of renewable energy sources, only 5% of the original 7% is contributed by wind energy. There is plenty of room for improvement in this area for wind energy. Wind has always been here and it will always be here as long as the Sun shines. It makes sense to try to exploit this renewable energy source for use to preserve the worlds environments and conserve our non-renewable energy sources for times of need. It is important to mention that all of the information in this paper is available from a multitude of other sources. This paper provides an overview of wind power. III. THE WIND TURBINE There are two major classifications for wind turbines. The two are the vertical axis and the horizontal axis wind turbines. The end result of the two is the same as they both provide power from a mechanical means from the wind. The main difference is the cost of building and power efficiency of each system as well as aesthetics and noise factors. A. Vertical Axis Wind Turbine The first type of wind turbine is the VAWT. This turbine spins on a vertical axis as depicted in Fig 2.

HIS document a brief history of AC, DC, and wind turbines. In the earliest of years, wind was typically used to drive sailboats and sailing ships. The use of wind developed over time, evolving from movement of ships to operating irrigation pumps to finally generating electricity for general use. Wind power is considered one of the worlds renewable energy sources. Oil and coal are the main types of nonrenewable energy sources in this world. They offer great upside in the ease of energy production. The big down side of coal and oil is that they are in fact non-renewable energy sources. This means that they will run out eventually and become exhausted, since it can not be replenished in a short period of time. In a study in May 2008, by the Energy Information Administration, 93% of the energy used in the United States of America is non-renewable energy. The other 7% is a mixture of renewable energy shown in Fig. 1 [1].

Fig. 3, HAWT, Horizontal-axis Wind Turbine Farm [3].

Fig. 2, VAWT, Darrieus wind turbine in Magdalen Islands [2].

There are many advantages and disadvantages to a VAWT. Typically the advantages are that the VAWT does not have to be mounted high in the sky to get a good enough wind source to generate power. The VAWT can start to generate power at a lower wind speed than the HAWT, therefore it can be mounted lower that other wind turbines generally would be mounted. This defining feature makes it more residential friendly because it can be mounted onto the top of a building. Also, VAWTs do not have to change directions to catch the wind. The VAWT will catch any wind no matter what direction it is blowing in. The VAWT also spins quieter than the HAWT. This makes it ideal for applications that do not need much power but provides just enough to power the load. The disadvantages of the VAWT are also significant for the reason why it has not been adopted for commercial power. VAWTs usually provide less power and have less efficiency than HAWTs. There blades have more drag than the HAWTs so they provide less energy when they spin for the wind speeds it gets when compared to a HAWT. Another problem is that it uses guy wires to hold up the structure. These guy wires cause a downward thrust onto the bearings of the blades causing increase wear and tear. Another way to fix this is to have a structure built above the VAWT to hold the object up. This introduces a problem with upgrade and maintenance of the VAWT since the blades would be stuck in and would have to be taken apart for maintenance. B. Horizontal-axis Wind Turbines The second type of wind turbine is the HAWT. The HAWT has blades that spin on a horizontal axis as shown in Fig 3. The HAWT is used more often then its counterpart, the VAWT. The HAWT is used by the commercial energy to provide power to customers.

The advantages of the HAWT are that it has a variable blade pitch. This allows the turbine to adjust the blades for the time of day and direction of the winds. It increases the power efficiency of the wind turbine for the seasons and situations. The HAWT also has the highest efficiency because it receives power from the entire blade rotation. The disadvantage of the HAWT is that it requires faster wind speeds to start producing sufficient power. These types of wind speeds are generally acquired at higher altitudes where there is not much friction slowing the velocity of the wind down. Therefore, the HAWTs have to be mounted on long and tall towers to maximize the power efficiency and allowing it to get the sufficient wind requirements to work correctly. Another disadvantage is that HAWTs are dependent on the direction of the wind. It has to have a certain sensor to determine which direction the wind is blowing from to maximize its power output. These sensors will be discussed in the next section. Generally, HAWTs are currently the more used version of the wind turbine due to the differences between the advantages and disadvantages described above. IV. PARTS OF THE WIND TURBINE There are many parts to the wind turbine. All of them are essential for the wind turbine to work correctly. Fig. 4 displays the different types of parts that are on the wind turbine.

There are three major designs in the braking system. These are setups that use a power control system that slows down the rotor speed when the wind speed gets too fast. They also release the brakes when the wind speed is below 45 mph. 1) Pitch Control The turbines microcontroller is equipped with tools and sensors to monitor the turbines power output. Once this power output is reach, the microcontroller will change the pitch of the blades to become less aligned with the wind. The blades rotation will then slow down causing a drop in power output. 2) Passive Stall Control This brake system is more involved in the mechanical design of the turbine. It involves mounting the rotors at a fixed angle but the material is design to allow for twists and turns above a set wind speed. These wind speeds provides a turbulence on the upwind of the blade which will induce stall. The turbulence will cause a decrease in speed. 3) Active Stall Control This braking system involves blades that have changeable pitches. This system combines both of the previous designs into one. It has a microcontroller that monitors the power output of the turbine. Once this output is reach the microcontroller decides to slow the blades down by changing the pitch of the blades instead of unaligning the blades from the wind. B. Shaft The wind-turbine shaft is connected to the center of the rotor. The shaft spins when the rotor spins. The rotor transfers its rotational mechanical energy into the shaft which is connected to an electric generator on the other end. C. Electric Generator The electric generator uses the properties of electromagnetic induction to produce an electrical voltage. At the heart of the operation of all ac machines is the concept of the rotating field produced by a set of static coils. There is also a set of windings in the rotor. Any rotation of the rotor shaft will cause an electromagnetic induction. A voltage will be induced in the rotor conductor. The current will then be generated in the coil which will drive the power to through distribution lines. Fig 6 displays a typical generator in a wind turbine. Both induction generators and synchronous generators are generally being used in commercially available wind turbines although other .As shown in Fig. 11 there are several options in choosing which type of generator to use.

Fig. 4, Parts involved for a HAWT [4].

A. Rotors The rotors, or the blades, are what converts the wind into energy. The blades job is to, in essence, catch the wind. This causes the blades to start to rotate and create rotational shaft energy [4]. It essentially converts kinetic energy into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is then converted to electrical energy by other various parts in the wind turbine. Also the power provided by the wind turbine can be linked to the size of the wind turbine. The size of the rotor plays a major part in the amount of energy able to be harvested from the wind. The energy available is as shown in Fig 5.

Fig 5. The rotor size relative to the amount of power able to be generated for each diameter [6].

Safety is always a concern with fast rotating blades. Most wind turbines generate their rated power capacity at 33 mph and shut down at 45 mph [6]. There are many different systems used to shut down the wind turbine if the maximum speed is reached. The most commonly used are called the braking system.

2) Wind Vane The wind vane is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. The design of a weather vane is such that the weight is evenly distributed to each side of the axis of rotation. The surface area is not equally divided to let the wind vane move freely on its axis. The larger surface area is blown away from the wind direction. V. POWER ELECTRONICS FOR WIND TURBINE

The variable-speed wind turbine requires a power electronic system that is capable of adjusting the generator frequency and the voltage to the grids [9]. Figure 8 displays the various advantages and disadvantages in using power electronics in wind turbine systems.

Fig 6. A typical generator within a wind turbine (Danish Turbines, 1999).

D. Miscellaneous Parts There are many miscellaneous parts to wind turbines that might not affect the bigger wind turbines but has a significant affect on the smaller less expensive versions. 1) Anemometer The anemometer is a device that is used for measuring winds speed. The most simple type of anemometer is the cup anemometer. It has three hemispherical cups, each mounted on one of four horizontal arms. Each cup is mounted at equal angles with respect to one another. The air flow passes the cups in any horizontal direction and turn the cups at a speed proportional to the wind speed. There is a factor called the anemometer factor that is dependent on the dimension of the cups and arms that determines the relationship between rotational speed and wind speed.
Fig 8. Advantages and disadvantages of using power electronics in wind turbines [9].

As described in Fig 8, power electronics have two strong features when implemented in a wind turbine system. 1) Controllable Frequency The wind turbine benefits from the controllable frequencies of power electronics. There is an increase in optimal energy operation, reduced loads on the gear and drive train, load control, practical solutions for gearless wind turbines, and reduced noise emission at low wind speeds [9]. The disadvantages are that it will incur additional costs and losses on power [9]. 2) Power Plant Characteristics These characteristics provide a possibility for wind farms to become active elements in the power system [9]. The advantages are the active or reactive power flow of the wind farm is controllable, the power converter in the wind farm can be used for a local reactive power source, the wind farm positively influences on the stability of the network, and power converters improves the power quality of the farm when reducing the flicker level [9]. The only disadvantage is that it generates high harmonics on the grid.

Fig 7. Anemometer and wind vane for measuring wind speed and direction.

Power electronics in wind turbines includes many different

types of devices. The basic elements of power converters are diodes, rectifiers, inverters, and frequency converters. The basic elements include diodes and electronic switches that consist of thyristors and transistors. The diodes conduct current only in one direction and will block current in the opposite direction of the position of the diode. The switches will allow the designer to pick the time when the diode would start conducting the current provided by the wind turbine. The thyristor will be used to switch on using the gate. The most used transistors are GTO thyristors, BJTs, MOSFETs, and IGBTs. These transistors have different characteristics and ratings associated with each element. It is recommended to be cognizant of the ratings for correct operation. Fig 9 details the type of characteristics.

After the rotor captures the energy a gear box must interface the slow moving rotor blades to a faster RPM for the generator. The faster the moving the more efficient the generator as long as it doesnt reach the peak rotation speed. The gearbox shaft is then placed into the generating shaft that spins and creates a EMF within the generator. This in turn provides a voltage and current able to be used by power electronics to obtain the desired results. It may have to be placed through a power converter and power transformer to finally be able to be placed into the supply grid. Fig 11 provides an overview of the road map of wind energy conversion.

Fig 9. Characteristics of certain transistors [9].

Fig 9 gives an idea of the maximum voltage, current, switching frequency as well as the drive requirements. It is important to keep these values in mind when working with power electronics within a wind turbine system. The wrong choice of transistor can provide unsafe operation of the wind turbine. VI. MECHANICAL TO ELECTRICAL The most important process is the process that converts the wind energy into electrical energy. The wind turbine captures the power of the wind and converts it to mechanical energy via the rotor. This mechanical energy is than converted to electrical power through the generator and transmission lines. Fig 10 displays the typical conversion process of the wind turbine.

Fig 11. Road map for wind energy conversion [5].

This overview provides a flow chart of the different routes that the conversion from wind energy to electrical energy may take. VII. CONCLUSION In conclusion, wind power has the potential to ease the crunch on non-renewable energy sources. It has always been available on the Earth and will continue to be for awhile. It is important to tap into these resources to lessen the strain on our ecosystems to provide a long lasting environment for future generations to come.

Fig 10. Typical conversion of wind into electrical power [5].

VIII. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors gratefully acknowledge the University of West Florida for allowing us to participate in the joint Computer and Electrical Engineering program with University of

The conversion goes through many processes to reach its end goal. First, the wind power must be caught by the rotors.


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Thanh Van Dang was born in Pensacola, Florida on August 10, 1987. He is a senior at the University of West Florida in Electrical Engineering. Topics of interest include unmanned systems, controls, communications, and signal processing. He plans to attend work while continuing to pursue further academics.