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Part I was compiled by Paul Gardner, Andrew Garrad, Lars Falbe Hansen, Peter Jamieson, Colin Morgan, Fatma Murray and Andrew Tindal of Garrad Hassan and Partners, UK; José Ignacio Cruz, Luis Arribas of CIEMAT, Spain; Nicholas Fichaux of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
We would like to thank all the peer reviewers for their valuable advice and for the tremendous effort that they put into the revision of Part I.
Electricity can be generated in many ways. In each case, a fuel is used to turn a turbine, which drives a generator, which feeds the grid. The turbines are designed to suit the particular fuel characteristics. Wind generated electricity is no different: The wind is the fuel, which drives the turbine, which generates electricity. But unlike fossil fuels it is free and clean.
The politics and economics of wind energy have played an important role in the development of the industry and contributed to its present success, but the engineering is still pivotal. As the wind industry has become better established, the central place of engineering has become overshadowed by other issues, but this is a tribute to the success of engineers and their turbines. Part I addresses the key engineering issues:
- The wind – its characteristics and reliability – how it can be measured, quantified and harnessed;
- The turbines – their past achievements and future challenges, covering a range of sizes larger than most other technologies: from 50 W to 5 MW and beyond;
- The wind farms – an assembly of individual turbines into wind power stations or wind farms; their optimisation and development; and
- Going offshore – the promise of a very large resource, but with major new technical challenges.
Part I provides a historical overview of turbine development, describes the present status and considers future challenges. This is a remarkable story, which started in the 19th century and accelerated over the last two decades of the 20th, on a course very similar to the early days of aeronautics. The story is far from finished, but it has certainly started with a vengeance.
Wind must be treated with great respect. The wind speed on a site has a very powerful effect on the economics of a wind farm and wind provides both the fuel to generate electricity and, potentially, loads that can destroy the turbines. This part describes how it can be quantified, harnessed and put to work in an economic and predictable manner. The long and short-term behaviour of the wind is described. The latter can be successfully forecasted to allow wind energy to participate in electricity markets.
The enormous offshore wind resource offers great potential, but with major engineering challenges, especially regarding reliability, installation and access.
In short, Part I explores how this new, vibrant and rapidly expanding industry exploits one of nature’s most copious sources of energy – the wind.
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