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The History of Wind Farms

Past Present and Future

I think the cost of energy will come down when we make this transition to renewable energy.

— Al Gore

Wind Turbines seem like such a modern and technological way of generating power, but what many people do not know is that the first electricity producing wind turbine was actually developed and built in 1887. Professor James Blyth of Anderson’s College, Glasgow, built a ten metre high, fully working wind turbine using nothing but wood and cloth. Professor Blyth used his innovative design to power his house, making his house the first in the world to be powered by wind powered electricity

1904 and the Society of Wind Electricians held the first course on wind electricity. Fast forward to 1908 and there are no less than 72 electricity producing wind turbines spread across Denmark, and by 1927 Joe and Marcellus Jacobs started “Jacobs Wind” in Minnesota, the first company to specialise in wind powered electricity, this is when wind farming really began to catch wind

The year is 1975 and the first US wind farm is up and running, generating enough power for up to 4,149 homes, while NASA start a wind turbine development program, incorporating technology that is used to this very day on the wind farms. Three years later and the first multi-megawatt wind turbine is produced, truly pioneering the technology into the modern day wind turbines we are familiar with, it was so effective that it is still up and running today

By 1984 there are 15 wind farms across the US, double the amount that was there the year before, and by 1998 the global power capacity reached 10,200 Megawatts, as the industry grown and grown, much like a snowball the power of the technology and speed in which we were producing and manufacturing it was growing exponentially, growing so much that by 2002 the Global Wind Power had grown to 31,100 Megawatts.

2007 and the UK draws its plans to have every home powered by wind turbines by 2020, an amazing statistic considering it was only in 2003 that the first UK off shore wind farm was built in North Wales. It made big strides towards that goal in 2013, when the London Array was built, the worlds largest off shore wind farm.

As you can see wind farms have a rich and long history, starting right here in Britain and perfected across the seas, a truly global effort for a truly global improvement.


Modern Day Turbine Technology

The Science

As yet, the wind is an untamed and unharnessed force, and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of it

Abraham Lincoln

Wind turbines have come a long way from the times of wood and cloth, becoming more and more technologically advanced with each decade. Here in 2019, wind turbines fall into one of two categories, be it on shore or offshore, it still falls into one of the two. Horizontal powered axis or vertical powered axis.

Vertical powered turbines are much rarer than their horizontal counterparts. With each having both their share of advantages and disadvantages. Vertical wind turbines are built pre aligned with the wind, taking away any need to adjust with the changing weather patterns, they are also easier to build, easy to install and the peak is much closer to ground level, so why not use these all the time?

There are several reasons why vertical wind turbines are not the standard, as easy as the installation is, they have a much larger footprint, making them a big issue to landowners. The lower peak also makes the turbine a lot less efficient than the horizontal versions, however for small jobs such as rural work the vertical axis may be favoured.

So what do Vertical Axis have over Horizontal Axis?

Horizontal axis turbines are much more favourable as a way of making power, using an acute design of motors to move the blades to be in perfect synchronisation with the wind, this design is perfect for catching the maximum amount of wind energy. These turbines are favoured for a number of other reasons as well, not only can they be used onshore and offshore, but as the components of the blade are so high up, there is very little footprint to worry about.

Offshore horizontal axis turbines have shown to be the most efficient on a global scale, the collect the most power, take up the least amount of space and are well away from any landowners, wildlife or livestock. The costs for starting an offshore wind farm are exceptionally high, but as time and technology progresses that cost will diminish.

How Do Life Jackets Work

The Science

I Like Pessimists, They’re always the ones who bring life jackets for the boat

Lisa Kleypas

We all know about life jackets, we know that if we fall in the water it goes poof and suddenly, we are saved, but how? What causes the seemingly automatic function to save your life in your direst moments, it’s all down to a set of mechanisms, all working hand in hand to cause the inflation that we all see.

The life jacket itself is only half the cake, one of the most important pieces, and one of the most overlooked is the beacon. Most professional life jackets will require a beacon, a beacon uses radio signals to tell the nearest ship or land mass that you are in the water, you are drifting, and you need help.  Some beacons are linked to a specific receiver on board your vessel, other signals can go straight to the emergency services.

There are of course jackets that don’t set off automatically. Manual inflated life jackets are activated by pulling a cord, releasing the firing pin mechanism into the pressurised gas cylinder, releasing the gas and inflating the life jacket. Manual life jackets however would not be peoples first choice due to the dangers of cold-water shock. Those going into shock will hyperventilate, panic and pulling a cord could prove very difficult.

But what about the automatically inflated ones?

So, you fall into the water and luckily you are wearing an automatic inflating life jacket, what happens to cause it to blow up? Its all down to a clever little tablet called a bobbin, the bobbin acts as a buffer between the firing pin and the gas cylinder, the bobbin dissolves, allowing the firing pin to hit the cylinder, thus activating the mechanism.

Once the jacket is activated, the extension of the jacket itself causes a cord to be pulled from the beacon, setting off a signal for you to be found as soon as possible, safely floating in the water.

The Future of Wind Farms

Past Present and Future

The two most abundant forms of power on earth are solar and wind, and they’re getting cheaper and cheaper

Ed Begley, Jr.

Over the past century wind farms have risen and risen through the ranks of reliable energies, and we as a planet, are getting closer to the point where fossil fuels are becoming no longer an option, fact which is propelling wind farming as the worlds number one source of energy.

Fantastic news for the world and fantastic news for us at home in the United Kingdom. For the United Kingdom our future lies mainly in offshore wind farming, and why not? We have rain, sea and wind aplenty, perfect conditions for offshore wind farming. It is a common misconception that the general public are strongly against on shore wind farming however, with reasons such as they will disturb wildlife and ruin views, in recent years this misconception has been debunked, with a government ran poll showing a 72% approval rate with the general public for on shore wind farms.

America is at the forefront of onshore wind farming, harnessing the vast open spaces of the great plains and using it as a wind tunnel, those in the renewable energy sector have compared the United States to the Saudi Arabia of wind farming.

What does this mean for the future?

With the phasing out of fossil fuels, the big energy companies are all wanting a piece of the pie, resulting in mass investment from the energy giants. Mass investment leads to more competitive energy prices, more jobs and most importantly, more wind farms. This is happening simultaneously on a global scale, making wind farming one of the most sought after commodities in the global energy sector. Fantastic news for the future, with Britain doing what it can to push this sector further and further it has quickly established itself as world leader in offshore wind farming, boasting a whopping 10% of all UK homes to be wind powered by 2020

It is no surprise at all the United Kingdom is head of the pack when it comes to offshore wind farming, after investing £19bn between 2016 and 2019, with the investment poised to continue well into 2021. We all know this creates more jobs as the sector grows, but the huge advantage is, is that it creates high skilled jobs, resulting in high skilled qualified workers. The Offshore Wind Industry Council expect at least twenty-seven thousand jobs in this sector by 2030, thats three fold the amount we have now, no surprise at all considering the United Kingdom owns 36% of the worlds offshore wind capacity.

The United Kingdoms days as worlds number one are numbered it seems, with giants like China and the United States making huge headway. This really is no issue at all in the grand scheme of things. The change to renewable clean energy is a global effort and healthy competition can only propel the technology and our efforts further and further forward.

Modern Day Wind Farms

Past Present and Future

And it was surely the case also that only machines built to so large a scale and of such pristine alloys could bridge the span between heaven and earth

Mike McCormack

A lot of time has passed since the times of using wood and cloth to power our wind turbines, and since then, we’ve come a long way. We have turbines of all different shapes and sizes, each with their own specific strengths. When it comes to onshore wind farms we have two different designs, a horizontal powered axis, and a vertical powered axis.

Vertical powered axis turbines are much rarer these days, with most of the world opting for the offshore horizontal versions, most of the world except for Denmark it seems, who boasted a whopping 43.4% of power in 2017 purely from their onshore vertical turbines. It’s a good way of creating energy, the vertical turbines are built with each blade pre-aligned to any changing wind pattern, completely taking away need for adjustment, they are much lower down to the ground as well, so why are these not the standard when it comes to wind farms?

To put it simply, they are not efficient enough. Granted they are lower down to the ground, making maintenance much easier, but this takes away from their ability to harness the wind, making them sub par in creating power. They also have considerably bigger footprints than their horizontal counterparts. A bigger footprint less land, and unhappy landowners, not a good combination. Mix that with the ability to upset wildlife and livestock, on top of being an eyesore, the vertical powered axis turbine is by no means our first choice in turbines.

Horizontal axis powered turbines are the much more familiar ones, with way more advantages, the main one being they are capable of working offshore, which is the most efficient place to have a wind farm. No people or animals to bother, the parts are easily transported by ship, and its well away from peoples vision, out of sight out of mind as they say. The blades and motors are also much higher up, meaning they can harness much more wind.

Offshore wind farming is by far the most efficient, with one of the only negatives being the startup cost, which will fade as the technology advances. And as we have seen already, the technology does advance, and fast! Who knows what the future of wind farming will hold?

Just who are WFE Safety?

WFE Safety are a company based in North Wales, a company at the forefront of supplying safety equipment for those in and around the renewable sector

We have decided to make this blog for a multitude of reasons, it provides us as members of this company the opportunity to share the ins and outs of this amazing industry, it keeps all our readers informed on where their energy comes from, and hopefully to inspire people to lower their carbon footprint or even join the renewable energy industry.

What topics will we cover?

  • Anything and everything within the Renewable Energy Industry
  • Wind Farms, Clean energy, Personal Protective Equipment, Climate change, Changing weather patterns

Of course the topics we have covered above are just the foundation we can build this blog upon, with ideas spouting from ideas sprouting from world events, this blog is definitely something that excites us here at WFE Safety

People have asked us, why are you doing this blog? There is nothing for you to gain from this surely?

  • While there is no financial gain to be had from this, there is still a multitude of good that can come from this blog
  • Making people aware of a topic can just be enough to start off a domino effect
  • Could the person who designs the next step in renewable energy in years to come be reading this very blog?
  • If we share the issues our planet is having, and day to day changes that can be made, we are doing our part and helping you do yours

Wind Farm Weekly’s will be aiming to have a variety of writers, each with their own personalities, approaches and style.

More about WFE Safety

Situated in Mostyn, North Wales, WFE Safety supplies personal protective equipment marine and terrestrial safety products to the growing renewables industry.

Our team have industry knowledge gained from onsite planning, construction and maintenance second to none.

Based in North Wales we supply to customers all over the world with products and advice that assists our clients with the correct equipment for the site, discipline and task they require.