The Airdolphin can offset your annual carbon footprint by 4 tons, the equivalent to four round-trip flights from Dublin-New York or half your personal footprint every year. As well as reducing your carbon footprint, the average household electricity bill can be reduced by up to 40%.
How does a wind turbine make electricity?
The simplest way to think about this is to imagine that a wind turbine works in exactly the opposite way to a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, turbines use the wind to make electricity.
Almost all wind turbines producing electricity consist of rotor blades, which rotate around a horizontal hub. The hub is connected to a gearbox and generator, which are located inside the nacelle. The nacelle is the large part at the top of the tower where all the electrical components are located.
Most wind turbines have three blades that face into the wind; the wind turns the blades round, this spins the shaft, which connects to a generator and this is where the electricity is made. A generator is a machine that produces electrical energy from mechanical energy, as opposed to an electric motor that does the opposite.
How strong does the wind have to blow for the wind turbines to work?
Wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 metres per second (around 10 miles an hour) and reach maximum power output at around 15 meters/second (around 33 miles per hour). At very high wind speeds, i.e. gale force winds, (25 metres/second, 50+ miles/hour) wind turbines shut down.
What happens when the wind stops blowing?
When the wind stops blowing, electricity continues to be provided by other forms of generation, such as gas or coal-fired power plants. Our electricity system is mostly made up of large power plants, and the system has to be able to cope if one of these goes out of action. It is possible to have up to 10% of the country's needs met by intermittent energy sources such as wind energy, without having to make any significant changes to the way the system operates. More can be accommodated, but extra storage capacity or spinning reserve would be necessary, which would have a cost implication.
Why do some wind turbines have two blades whilst others have three?
The majority of modern wind turbines have three blades, as this design has been found to have a greater aesthetic appeal. The disadvantage is that each blade will add to the overall cost and weight and can be more difficult to install, particularly offshore.
Two bladed machines are cheaper and lighter, with higher running speeds, which reduce the cost of the gearbox, and they are easier to install. However two bladed machines can be noisier and are not as visually attractive, appearing 'jerky' when they turn. The engineering ideal would be to have only one blade, and some one bladed early prototypes were developed, but didn't stand the test of time.
Sustainable Energy Ireland has developed a wind atlas, which is a digital map of Ireland's wind energy resource.
It provides detailed information on wind speeds, electricity transmission and distribution networks for specific locations around Ireland at national and county levels.Ireland has one of the greatest wind energy resources in Europe and it is important this is exploited to maximum advantage. The wind atlas can assist all those concerned with the wind planning process and be of great use to developers and policy makers alike. It is currently used by local authorities to help identify areas suitable for wind energy developments.