Renewable Energy Sources

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Renewable Energy Sources: Wind, Water, and the Sun

At present days the energy is predominantly provided by fossil fuels such as coal. Since this type of fuel is not renewable, alternative energy should be considered in the present world. In nature, there are several kinds of renewable energy sources, such as wind, water, and the sun. Wind energy constructions do not consume any kind of fuel and therefore do not pollute the air with chemical and poisonous emissions. The idea of using energy is old and new at the same time. Wind energy has been used by people for a long time. The main cases when wind power was used for one’s own purposes were windmills, which were provided mostly for grinding grain and for pumping water.

Currently, wind energy is an environmentally friendly and financially efficient source of energy that is used to generate a great amount of electricity for individual and national needs. Wind energy is one of the renewable kinds of energy that provides electricity while using wind. In fact, wind energy is a form of solar energy. The wind is always caused by the irregular heating of the Earth’s surface that is provided by the sun. Since the Earth’s surface is made of various types of land (for example, mountains and valleys) and water, different places absorb the solar heat in different amounts and ways (Taylor, 2013).

Natural phenomena, such as wind cycle, can be observed daily. The air above the land heats up more and faster than that above water. Constantly, the heated air above land rises up, and the cooler and thus heavier air rushes in to take its place, thus creating wind. All aforementioned actions cause wind. The same can be said about atmospheric winds that are formed because the equator area is heated more than surfaces near two Poles (Layton, n.d.).

Nowadays, experts distinguish two main ways by means of which wind energy can be transformed (both for mechanical and electromechanical purposes): use or forces of the aerodynamic resistance, or upheaval. The way of aerodynamic resistance means simple placement of one party of a surface against a wind while the other party is on the leeward side. Movement by means of aerodynamic resistance happens in the same direction as the wind blows. The way of upheaval changes the direction of wind a little and creates a force, which is perpendicular to the wind direction. The way of aerodynamic resistance is less effective than the way of upheaval (Stiebler, 2008).

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Wind speed that is necessary for development of the electric power has to be, at least, 2.5–3 m/s and no more than 10-15 m/s. Many areas of the Earth are not suitable for placement of wind installations, and almost the same number of areas is characterized by the average speed of wind in the range 3-4.5 m/s that can be an attractive option for electricity generation. However, the considerable part of the Earth’s surface is characterized by the average annual speed of a wind exceeding 4.5 m/s when wind energy can be cost-competitive (Wu, Lang, Zargari, & Kouro, 2011).

The assessment of wind resources of a specific territory is a complex challenge which demands multi-comprehensive data. As a whole, availability and reliability of data on the speed of wind is very low in many regions of the world. In general, the potential of production of wind power depends on the following factors: width and prevailing modes of wind, relief and height, reservoirs, vegetation and the number of buildings on a specific territory. The speed of wind prevailing in the region can be defined using the global model (low – and high-altitude eastern, middle-latitude western, and low-windy tropical zones of convergence). Besides, in coastal areas, sea and land breezes are often observed, and high-rise areas can strengthen the air bumps caused by thermal cyclones (Wu, Lang, Zargari, & Kouro, 2011).

As stated above, wind power usage is not a new idea. On the other hand, a wind turbine is rather a new concept. In fact, the use of wind turbines is one of the most useful methods to generate electricity. The work of wind turbines is based on a simple principle. The energy of a wind flow turns propeller blades around a particular rotor. At the same time, the rotor is attached to the rotor shaft that spins the generator, creating electricity. In order to gain most sources and profit, turbines are installed on the top of a tower. Therefore, they may capture the most amount of wind energy. However, wind is not always a constant value. Thus, the speed, frequency and time of a wind blow play a major role in producing electricity. The wind turbine power output extends as a cube of total speed of wind flow. Therefore, in case of wind speed doubling the output power rises in eight times. In this case, wind with a higher speed is captured by a wind turbine more easily (“Wind energy basics,” n.d.).

Naturally, the greatest wind potential is observed on the sea coasts, and in the mountains. Nevertheless, there are many other territories with wind potential that is sufficient to generate wind power. As the power source, wind is less predictable unlike, for example, the sun. However, during certain periods existence of wind is observed for the whole day. Wind resources are influenced by a relief of the Earth and existence of the obstacles located at the height up to 100 meters. Therefore, wind depends more on local conditions, than energy of the sun. In mountainous regions, for example, two sites can possess identical solar potential, but it is quite possible that their wind potential will be various, first of all, because of distinctions in a relief and the directions of the wind streams. In this regard, place planning for wind-driven generators has to be carried out more carefully, than when installing solar energy systems (Stiebler, 2008).



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Wind power is also subordinated to seasonal changes of weather: wind-driven generators are more effective in winter and less effective in summer (in the case with solar systems the situation is quite opposite). An optimum option is the combination of a small wind generator and solar energy installation in one system. Similar hybrid systems provide higher efficiency of electric power in comparison with separately established wind or photo-electric installations. Besides, the quantity of the energy made using wind depends on air density, the area covered with the rotating blades of the wind turbine, and also on the cube of the wind speed (Stiebler, 2008).

Since wind energy has great efficiency and is used for commercial needs, wind farms were created. Groups of turbines are called wind plants or wind farms. In fact, they are the most financially efficient in the production of electricity. In order to get a big amount of electricity from wind, they are usually grouped together and are placed rather close to each other. In most cases, they are installed in rural and coastal areas with the most constant amount of wind and rather high speed of wind. Also, areas for wind farms are chosen in order to keep the most of the land unaffected by the presence of wind farms. Moreover, the location of a wind farm must always be chosen in accordance with the financial perspective. High speed of wind in a given area dictates low costs of electricity that wind turbines generate. The higher the speed of wind, the lower the cost of electricity (Darvill, 2013).

Wind energy became the most growing source of an alternative energy in the present world, and it gives people numerous advantages. In general, wind energy is produced by wind, and, therefore, it can be considered as one of the most clean and environmentally friendly alternative energy sources. Unlike companies which use fossil fuels (for example natural gas or coal), wind energy does not pollute the air. At the same time, wind turbines do not pollute the air with poisonous emissions. Therefore, they cannot be the reason for the greenhouse effect or acid rains (Wagner & Mathur, 2013).

Also, one of the main advantages is the possibility to produce it in any country and not to buy it (as it happens with natural gas). What is more, wind energy can rely on wind power that is constant and renewable. Modern technologies make it possible to capture and extract the energy of wind more efficiently than it was a few years ago. Moreover, since wind does not belong to anybody and it is free and there is no need to be extract it from any place like coal in mines, this source of energy is much more efficient than many others (Ryan, 2009).

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Wind turbines became an almost ideal resource of energy production in many remote locations, for example, remote countryside or mountain areas. Since wind turbines can be designed and produces in different sizes, it allows many people to have their own wind turbines that will generate electricity for their needs in many areas of the planet. One of the greatest benefits of wind energy is that it can be combined with solar energy and electricity. In many cases, the aforementioned energy source combination can become very useful for developing countries as it provides a reliable domestic delivery of electricity (Ryan, 2009).

Relatively small areas needed for installation of wind turbines is also a great advantage of wind energy. They take much less space than a power station. Wind turbines may occupy only several square meters, and the land around such constructions can be used for various purposes, like agriculture. Also, among numerous advantages created by it, many job places should be mentioned. At the present moment, production of wind energy has already created working positions for many local people. Installation and maintenance of wind turbines and their location provide people with a wide range of working opportunities and positions (Ryan, 2009).

Wind energy is considered to be one of the cheapest energies since available and renewable sources of the present world are needed to its generation. Having rather competitive prices, wind energy can be considered as the major source of alternative energy in the future. The total cost of turbines installation may vary due to several aspects. Costs related to design and installation, costs of materials and location are only a short list of total costs. Cost components usually include resource assessment as well as analysis of expenses, upgrades of utility system, interconnection studies, metering and protection support and equipment, warranty and insurance, consultation fees, etc. Other financial costs related to wind turbines that will have an impact on the whole project may include incentives and taxes. Also, the cost of electricity produced by wind turbines will possibly decrease in the future. Such a decrease is dictated by the devolvement of the whole process and its constant improvements. Present wind turbines can get a lot more energy from the wind flow than their analogs used 10 years ago. Therefore, this factor shows the reduction of the generation cost (“How much do wind turbines cost?” 2012).

The development of wind-driven generators started with the use of small machines for limited application, but, in the process of increase of their sizes, wind-driven generators became less attractive to use in the private sector in the form of an individual source of electric power. Respectively, almost all electric power produced by big wind-driven generators flows in the power supply network. The quantity of the energy developed by big wind-driven generators is so great that can exceed the capacity of local power lines. First of all, it is typical for the coastal territories having good wind potential, but most often not having necessary power structures. Thus, there is a need of construction of new high-voltage lines; however, they are associated with additional expenses and such a construction can be refused. Since additional expenses are economically inexpedient for a single installation, there was a steady tendency to group wind-driven generators in a certain area and to construct wind farms (Manwell, McGowan, & Rogers, 2009).

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The energy produced by all wind-driven generators located in a wind power station is united and sold to the state on a basis of a contract. Since the early 80s, big wind-driven generators started to be developed for the net-working power plants, which are built in the canyons of California. Big wind-driven generators located in one wind farm are usually integrated also by a form of ownership. In the USA, wind power stations belong to private energy companies. Although initially there were problems with badly designed units and excessively greedy sellers, wind power stations became the most efficient way of producing electricity (Manwell, McGowan, & Rogers, 2009).

Taking into account the above-mentioned information, one can say that wind energy has many positive aspects. Wind turbines do not affect the environment with poisonous emissions and, therefore, they cannot be the reason for air and water pollution. Also, the preservation of the land and natural non-renewable resources play a great role in constant installation of various wind energy constructions. The financial aspect of this issue affects the constant development of the whole wind energy field. Since modern technology allows a person to have his/her own wind turbines to generate enough electricity for a large building, in the future many people will have an opportunity to possess their own source of electricity. The biggest part of costs is spent on the design and installation of wind turbines. After it is done, wind energy becomes one of the cheapest and most profitable sources of pure energy that is environmentally friendly at the same time.

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