Researchers make advances in wind energy generation

Jul 18, 2005

Engineers at the University of Alberta have created a wind energy generator that they hope people will one day be able to use to power their own homes.

"We have developed a simple, reliable, controller for small scale wind energy generators that is cheaper than competing technologies," said Dr. Andy Knight, a professor in the U of A Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and lead author of a paper on the subject published recently in IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion.

The traditional problem with harnessing wind energy has been the high cost and the low return of energy, especially for small-scale generators, Knight explained. A particular problem is that the devices have been unable to convert any energy when winds fall below specific cut off speeds, and much energy is therefore wasted.

However, Knight's open loop control system can be built with a few, simple electronic components that are cheap and easy to find, use and repair. As well, Knight's system is able to transfer even light winds into electric energy.

Although Knight and his colleagues have not yet built anything that is ready to sell, they have designed and tested a generator that they are working to improve before they expect to apply for a patent and possibly bring it to market.

Current small-scale wind energy generators cost about $2,400 US and, on an average wind speed day, produce 5.2 kiloWatt-Hours per day, Knight said. According to Natural Resources Canada, the average household consumes between 34 and 67 kiloWatt-Hours per day.

Generally, current small-scale wind energy generators require wind speeds of at least 18 km/h to generate any power, but Knight's device could be used in low wind environments, such as the Edmonton, Alberta area, where the average wind is 10 km/h.

"But it wouldn't be something you'd put in your garden. Energy is already cheap and abundant in Edmonton, so it wouldn't be financially viable in the city," Knight said, adding that fast turning wind turbines in a small yard would create a hazard.

However, the generators could be used at remote locations outside of the city, where the power supply is more expensive and less abundant.

Based on the results of his ongoing work, Knight is hopeful that wind energy might one day become a clean, renewable, viable source of energy for everyone to use, which would counter the environmental damage occurring from our current use of fossil fuels as our main source for energy.

"My work is something that can make a small change, and it's probably a bunch of small changes here and there that will add up and one day have a big impact," he said.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can solar energy help save Greece?

Aug 14, 2013

What happens to renewable energy programs in a country that gets whacked by a full-scale debt crisis, like the one that struck Greece beginning in 2009—do the programs whither and die in the winds of austerity? And how ...

Power grid chief touts electric-car payback

Sep 25, 2009

U.S. power grid chief Jon Wellinghoff is touting the long-term cost savings of electric cars, saying the vehicles could earn $1,500 a year in paybacks for their owners when their batteries are connected to the power grid.

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

5 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

18 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

18 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

18 hours ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

23 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

23 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0