Tuesday, January 11, 2005

FPL Wind Energy

Wind Energy
Clean, renewable energy A cost-effective source of power Meeting market demand reliably How wind turbines work For more information
FPL Energy is the largest U.S. generator of wind power, with 42 wind farms currently in 15 states:
New Mexico
North Dakota
South Dakota
West Virginia
With a wind-power portfolio of more than 2,700 net megawatts, FPL Energy generated nearly 40 percent of the total wind energy in the nation in 2003.
Clean, renewable energy
Wind is a source of clean, renewable energy. This means we save on fossil fuel resources (coal, natural gas or oil), but, more importantly, we aren't faced with the additional environmental impacts associated with burning them.
Wind is clean, efficient and almost always there to be tapped. An abundant, never-ending resource, it generates clean energy using the most up-to-date technologies available. Today, wind energy is the fastest-growing renewable energy resource in the world. For example:
global installed capacity is more than 31,000 megawatts
U.S. installed capacity is more than 6,300 megawatts.
Source: American Wind Energy Association
A cost-effective source of power
Today, wind produces a small percentage of our nation's electricity. But some believe wind power can produce up to 6 percent of our electricity needs by 2020. That's the same amount of electricity generated today through hydroelectric power and enough to serve 25 million homes.
Wind has always been clean and renewable, but it was not always a cost-effective source of power. In the past 20 years, the cost of wind energy has dropped approximately 80 percent, making it competitive with other energy sources, due largely to
advances in technology and
the federally-sponsored wind production tax credit.
Established to encourage the development of clean, renewable wind power, the tax credit dramatically changed the ladscape of the wind generation business in the U.S. by helping promote a sensible energy policy that wisely encourages diversification of energy sources.
Source: American Wind Energy Association
Meeting market demand reliably
When a utility diversifies its power portfolio with the addition of wind energy, it can reliably meet market demand for that power.
While wind energy generation cannot be precisely scheduled based on demand, sophisticated monitoring and wind resource analysis allow wind developers to estimate with a high degree of certainty "when" and "how much" wind energy is available in a particular region during a specific month or year, so customers can plan their resource balance accordingly.
How wind turbines work
Wind turbines capture the wind's energy with two or three propeller-like blades, which are mounted on a rotor, to generate electricity. The turbines sit high atop towers, taking advantage of the stronger and less turbulent wind at 100 feet (30 meters) or more above ground.
A blade acts much like an airplane wing:
When the wind blows, a pocket of low-pressure air forms on the downwind side of the blade.
The low-pressure air pocket then pulls the blade toward it, causing the rotor to turn. This is called lift.
The force of the lift is actually much stronger than the wind's force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag.
The combination of lift and drag causes the rotor to spin like a propeller, and the turning shaft spins a generator to make electricity.
Wind turbines can be
used as stand-alone applications or
connected to a utility power grid or
combined with a photovoltaic (solar cell) system.
Stand-alone turbines are typically used for water pumping or communications.
However, homeowners and farmers in windy areas can also use turbines to generate electricity.
For utility-scale sources of wind energy, a large number of turbines are usually built close together to form a wind farm. Several electricity providers today use wind farms to supply power to their customers.
For more information
Explore our list of frequently asked questions.
Download our brochure, The Nation's Leader in Wind Energy (704kb .pdf file). This file requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't already have it, or have problems viewing this file, download it now.
For more information on wind energy, visit the American Wind Energy Association.