You can debate whether technology is “improving” our everyday lives. You can’t, however, debate how technology is helping advance the wind-energy market.
Thanks to technology such as computer modeling and 3D printing, wind is moving from a niche market to a mainstream source of energy.
With modern technology, including superior materials and engineering, better components are being created for wind turbines. Wind turbine blades, for example, have been designed that effectively capture 12 percent more energy than previous blades, according to a report from the EPA.
Internal gearboxes have also been improved to be more reliable, which will reduce costs to manufacturers. In the end, this will give the wind-energy market a better chance of capturing a larger portion of the overall energy market.
One of the largest benefits that technology has brought to the wind-energy market is to reduce the negative consequences of the “wake effect.” Essentially, a wind turbine behind another receives less wind because the turbine in front is creating a wake in the wind. This slows the flow of wind and results in less energy.
Using advanced technology and processes such as “computational fluid dynamics,” wind turbines can be properly designed and organized to reduce the wake effect, resulting in more energy for every turbine, which in the end means more productivity for the market.
Before many of the modern technologies were implemented, wind turbines were usually found only in places with steady, strong winds. Thanks to technological advancements, energy companies can place turbines in less-windy areas and get the energy they need.
Previously, there was little benefit from placing a turbine in a less-windy area. Now, that same area can reap the rewards of wind energy, it allows the industry to spread into new locations all across the country and the globe.
One of the most significant advancements in wind-energy technology has been a simple improvement in reliability. Like a car, a wind turbine is more effective when it runs; the less reliable it is, the fewer chances you have to use it.
A report from Renewable Energy World states that decades back, wind turbines were operating about 70 percent of the time. Roughly ten years ago, they improved to as high as 85 percent, which, at the time, seemed wonderful. Now thanks to advancements in parts and technology, wind turbines are operating at about 98 percent of the time, which puts them right alongside major energy producers such as gas turbines, nuclear plants, and steam turbines.
Technology will continue to drive demand for wind turbines. In the future, you can fully expect technology to move the wind-energy market into the mainstream of global energy.
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