Watch the wind

Alternative energy sources like wind can never compete with heavily subsidised and often freely supplied grid power. A look at some renewable ideas by architect.

19bgp-green_GA4_19_1623264eWe are passing through a time buzzing with renewable ideas like wind and solar energy; bulbs like CFL and LED; concepts like hybrid and grid supply. While they renew our own hopes for a more sustainable future, these ideas are not without their basket of problems.

At present, wind energy is best used to compliment the electricity board grid and solar power. Grid energy will run all the 16 amp power needs and supplement when either solar or wind is not able to generate power. Wind energy can be used to charge the battery, but periodic battery replacement is not an eco-friendly option. This system is called hybrid system, with low running cost, but initial higher capital cost.

Instead, direct supply to the grid is more efficient and better, but the government has to provide for such provisions. At the higher end, there are people who have invested in large wind mills, sell the power to the government directly and then draw power from the grid wherever they want. It is a known fact that wind mills come with least of operation and maintenance costs, while solar panels produce reduced power across years, besides the need to replace batteries periodically. As such, investing in wind is a better long-term strategy.

While there are increased efforts to promote wind energy production, the idea is not without inherent problems. During times of repairs, reaching the tip of turbine is not easy. Often the turbine will be rotating but hardly any electricity would be produced due to low speeds.

Fast winds, especially during the early unexpected rains, can spoil the blades, making replacing them a cumbersome job. The components are designed for all general challenges, but not for such unpredictable extreme conditions, also due to cost factors.

Fluctuations

The fluctuating power can damage power equipment, demanding the use of inverters at additional cost and consumption. Though there will be a feel good factor, the overall looks of the tower and the apparatus below can be unpleasant in an otherwise publicly important structure. More common problems sighted refer to troubling birds, with turbine clusters virtually eliminating birds around them.

Even with the small units, the air current and sound wave affected by the rotating blades disturb the bird population. In quite neighbourhoods, the blade sound can be distinctly heard, often to the neighbour’s discomfort.

Notwithstanding all the above, energy form wind is something to watch out for. The irony is, the main obstacle in popularising wind energy is none of the above. Alternate energy sources like wind can never compete with heavily subsidised and often freely supplied grid power (which our government does), hence people tend to prefer grid power to wind or solar power. Only when we are made to pay realistic prices for the power we consume, hopefully we may attempt the alternatives and live a more sustainable life.

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Posted on October 19, 2013, in concepts, designs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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