Since early recorded history, people have been harnessing the energy of the wind. Wind energy propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C. By 200 B.C., simple windmills in China were pumping water, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East. The world's first electricity generating wind turbine was a battery charging machine installed in July 1887 by Scottish academic James Blyth to light his holiday home in Marykirk, Scotland.
It was in 1951 that the first utility grid-connected wind turbine to operate in the United Kingdom was built by John Brown & Company in the Orkney Islands. In the 1970s industrial scale wind generation was first proposed as an electricity source for the United Kingdom; the higher working potential of offshore wind was recognised.
The popularity of using the energy in the wind has always fluctuated with the price of fossil fuels. When fuel prices fell after World War II, interest in wind turbines waned. But when the price of oil skyrocketed in the 1970s, so did worldwide interest in wind turbine generators.
Now, driven by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure home-grown energy supplies, wind energy is the world's fastest growing renewable energy type. There are a significant number of wind turbines currently being used in the UK. There are many areas across the country, which consistently have high levels of wind all year long. This makes wind turbine efficiency very high, especially if the equipment is set up in the correct locations. Annually, 1-2 percent of energy is provided by wind power generation in the UK.
WHAT IS WIND POWER?
The term wind energy describes the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power by turning the blades which spins the shaft. This mechanical power is then converted into electricity by connecting to a generator.
Wind turbines can only generate electricity when the wind is blowing at a suitable speed, so they need to be backed up by other forms of electricity generation. They can be located in suitably windy sites either on-shore or off-shore:
- On-shore Wind Turbines:On-shore wind turbines can produce electricity at costs closely competitive with other established sources of energy. However, there are limited number of suitably windy sites in the UK and concerns about the visual impact of wind turbines can sometimes make it difficult to secure.
- Off-shore Wind Farms: The UK has been the world leader in offshore wind since October 2008, with as much capacity already installed as the rest of the world combined. Off-shore wind turbines have much less visual impact for UK residents, and there is much more space available offshore in which to build them. Off-shore wind turbines can also take advantage of higher and more consistent wind speeds. However, the offshore environment makes manufacturing, constructing and maintaining offshore wind turbines more complex and hazardous than for onshore projects. Consequently, offshore wind turbines are currently a much more expensive way to generate electricity than onshore turbines.
ADVANTAGES OF WIND POWER
- It is the cleanest form of renewable energy and is currently used many leading developed and developing nations to fulfill their demand for electricity.
- Native fuel which does not need mining or transportation, taking two expensive costs out of long-term energy expenses.
- The price of electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power can fluctuate greatly due to highly variable mining and transportation costs. Wind can help buffer these costs because the price of fuel is fixed and free.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Wind is simply the result of differences in pressure in the atmosphere created mainly by the unequal heating of the earth's surface by the sun. It is caused by air flowing from high pressure to low pressure. The closer the high and low pressures are together, the stronger the pressure gradient and the stronger the winds. There are three types of wind; short strong winds are usually called gusts, termed squalls are intermediate strong winds and durable strong winds may be a typhoon, hurricane, storm, gale or breeze.
The direction that wind takes is influenced by the rotation of the earth. On a non-rotating earth it would move in a straight path from a high to a low pressure area. It is deflected from this path by the rotation of the earth on its axis. This causes deflection to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere.
WHERE IS IT USED?
Many countries around the world have started using wind turbines for power generation. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis. The countries that use the most wind power include the USA, India, Germany, France and Spain.
WHY CHOOSE A CAREER IN WIND?
Choosing a career in wind, wave or tidal energy means working towards a more sustainable future. Wind energy is becoming an increasingly important part of our energy mix for the future. The UK is one of the best locations for wind power in the world, and is considered to be the best in Europe.
- Wind has been the world�s fastest growing renewable energy source for the last eight years. As the costs of generating fall and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions and prevent climate change grows, it�s a trend that�s set to continue.
- There are career opportunities throughout the country, not just in the vicinity of wind farms or on the coast.
- There is a great potential for work around the globe. Some companies with a UK base also operate overseas, so you could even find yourself abroad on secondment.
- It is a renewable energy source and therefore will have life-long prospects.
WHAT PERSONNEL ARE IN DEMAND WHO SHOULD CONTACT US?
There are a wide variety of offshore wind jobs across a range of disciplines, including structural engineers, mechanical engineers, project managers, environmental consultants, cabling and supply chain specialists, document controllers, HR personnel and admin.
The wind industry also offers opportunities in the service sector, for field technicians, installation technicians, and operational maintenance experts.
The UK Government has laid down targets that are encouraging energy companies to build 33 GW of offshore wind farms by 2020, which means there were will be some exciting career opportunities in this industry over the next few years.
TALK TO US ABOUT GETTING AHEAD OF THE GAME AND HOW WE CAN ASSIST YOU IN YOUR TRANSFER TO THE WIND ENERGY INDUSTRY.
- In most instances no training will be required prior to placement; we will put you in touch with employers happy to engage you with your current skills and qualifications.