Harnessing the Wind – Wind Energy Basics

Part 1 of 4

Winds come from solar energy. Air moves due to differences in pressure caused by uneven heating of Earth. This fast moving air contains the energy that we are harnessing for use by Kotzebue residents in such things as lighting homes, pumping water throughout the city, toasting bread, and running computers.

The wind turbines doing that work look pretty simple. A few spinning blades. A tower. But capturing wind energy and transforming it into electricity is not simple. The equipment is highly engineered and finely tuned to its purpose.

The force of the wind spins the blades, or rotor, of the turbine. This spinning turns a shaft that is attached to an electric generator. Electronic controls help to assure proper frequency of the electricity output. Transformers and electric lines feed the electricity at the proper voltage into the utility system for transport to consumers. Each component of the process is carefully designed to work with other components.

KEA spent years looking for a turbine that might work well in Kotzebue’s winds and arctic environment, and with the local utility system. It found the right turbine to test in the AOC 15/50, produced by Atlantic Orient Corporation of Vermont.

Part 1: Harnessing the Wind

Part 2: AOC 15/50 Wind Turbine

Part 3: Winds in Kotzebue

Part 4: Wind Energy Production