Nova Alternative Energy Systems


Wind Power

Wind Power:

The most obvious influence on 20th century wind power was the increasing use of electricity. But this started with a look to the past.

The first use of a large windmill to generate electricity was a system built in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1888 by Charles F. Brush. The Brush machine was a post mill with multiple-bladed “picket fence” rotor 17 meters in diameter, featuring a large tail hinged to turn the rotor out of the wind. It was the first windmill to incorporate a step up gearbox (with a ratio of 50:1) in order to turn a direct current generator at its required operational speed (in this case 50 RPM).

After 1980, the market in the United States was dominated by the emergence of the wind farm. The market was an almost totally unexpected phenomenon resulting from the coalescence of several application –dependent, legislative and economic factors. Power produced by wind turbines in California was extremely attractive to utilities serving coastal cities because periods of high winds over the coastal hills correlate fairly well with high commercial and residential air conditioning loads during the summer.

Among the key economic factors were the federal energy credit of 15%,  a 10% federal investment credit and a 50% California state energy credit. These together with attractive rates offered by utilities for power produced by alternative sources (mandated by state regulations), were packaged into an attractive investment product by private financial firms and investment houses.

Future is now:

In the near future, wind energy will be the most cost effective source of electrical power. In fact, a good case can be made for saying that it already has achieved this status. The actual life cycle cost of fossil fuels (from mining and extraction to transport to use technology to environmental impacts etc.)  is really not known but, it is certainly far more than the current wholesale rates. The eventual depletion of these energy sources will entail the rapid escalations in price which—averaged over the brief periods of their use will result in postponed actual costs that would be unacceptable by present standards. And this doesn’t even consider the environmental and political costs of fossil fuels used that are silently and not so silently mounting every day.