‘Wind Energy: Technology and Planning’
With its website and CD-ROM ‘Wind Energy: Technology and Planning’ the World Wind Energy Association offers information on all the different technical aspects of modern large and small-scale wind energy utilisation. The aim of the website and CD-ROM is the worldwide spread of know-how about wind energy. The website is aimed at anybody who is interested in wind energy. It focuses especially on students and learners, and the administrative staff of companies and associations who want to keep themselves informed and to expand their knowledge of the subject.
By Hans Hof, Contributing Editor, Windtech International
The website and the CD-ROM (including videos!) are subdivided in five chapters: Technology, Planning, Operation and Maintenance, Grid Integration and Storage, and Special Applications. Today these specialised applications might only be useful in niche markets, but in the future they may well be used on a larger scale, often in so-called developing countries. On the website you will find texts comprising basic information as well as many photographs, explanatory charts, videos and internet links. It makes good use of the opportunities offered by the internet to present a multimedia-based design. It has tried to include parts with a high theoretical content as well as chapters with a strong practical orientation.
It is very impressive to note that this website and CD-ROM are produced with the help of 42 supporting wind energy companies and wind energy associations (including Windtech International), as well as governments worldwide. The information is well structured and clear pictures and photos are included; these can be downloaded and will be useful for a variety of purposes such as school projects. It is a good addition to the information that can be found about wind energy on the Danish Wind Industry Association website (www.windpower.org), which has proved popular with high school and university teachers when preparing their physics lessons.
I found some? chapters very attractive, for example? the sections on controls, operation, maintenance and monitoring, as well as the chapter dealing with ecological impacts, and policy and planning issues particularly in relation to obtaining permits. I also found the parts discussing meteorological models and the safety aspects very good.
However, there are some sections that I do not feel are up to the same standard. The section on storing energy created by wind power is notably controversial. Ulf Bossel is quoted when discussing energy storage in the form of hydrogen: he is pessimistic about it. In his view, converting electricity into hydrogen is a pure waste of energy. ‘If wind power is to be stored as hydrogen, three out of four wind turbines would deliver only lost energy,' Bossel states. He goes on to say that ‘the low efficiency of 25% in the complete conversion chain, including compression and liquefaction, is not optimisable because of the physical properties of ...hydrogen'. This is incorrect or misleading: a round trip efficiency with hydrogen can be two or three times better than he assumes when the hydrogen chain is equipped with combined heat and power operating units. Evidence for this conclusion can be found at COGEN Europe and other sources and I recommend them to Mr Bossel's attention. However, I agree with him that hydrogen systems should only be used when direct electricity use is not possible.
It is also a pity that the references and manufacturers given, as well as the other websites quoted, are mostly German. This does not seem to be adequately balanced to me. But overall it is a good product: the information is presented in an easily readable form, there is not too much text and there are many good photos. For those who want to know more, detailed information is given by means of references to articles and books. Very instructive material!
Wind Energy - Technology and Planning.
Published in 2006 by the World Wind Energy Association
For website visits: www.world-wind-energy.info