Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Workshop on Wind Energy at Campus Sostenible

by Steven Beardsley

Making our windmills at the workshop

While I was abroad in Spain, I went to a workshop at Espinardo, one of the two major campuses of la Universidad de Murcia, on Wind Energy. The presenter showed us a video on windmills that detailed the various kinds of windmills such as horizontal ones versus vertical ones.

We also got the chance to see various diagrams that highlighted different parts of the windmill. For instance, there are safety mechanisms within the windmills that are designed to stop the windmill if it gets too windy in order to prevent damage to the windmill. I’ve also noticed that in Spain it can get pretty windy, which surprised me since it’s typically warm and sunny most of the time.

Presentation on Wind Energy

Length of a blade of a windmill
In addition to the video, the presenter showed us various mini-windmills with little circuits where spinning the windmill lights up the light along the corners. He mentioned how this is inefficient since one has to either continually spin the windmill and the spin has to be consistently strong. This led to a discussion on the various types of renewable energy.

For instance, solar energy is highly valued in Spain since Spain receives the most sunlight out of most countries in Europe and is usually used in conjunction with wind energy. Additionally, the presenter mentioned the difficulties of accumulating energy through windmills in addition to talking about the size of one of the many blades. I was surprised to find out that the blade of a windmill is actually the length of two highways as depicted in this image:

Making our Own Windmills
He also talked more about the differences between windmills that are used to take water out of the ground versus windmills that are used for accumulating energy. He also gave a general explanation of the use of wind from early navigation on boats to modern day constructions of windmills. After answering questions and talking more about the mechanisms of the windmill, we also got the chance to make our own windmills.

We first constructed a mast like that of a boat in order to see which direction the wind was coming from. We were able to color our mast and cut different designs into it. After that, we made the windmill itself and put it into place with a plastic cylinder that slid tightly onto one end of our mast. Luckily, it was windy the day of the workshop, so we got the chance to see our windmills spin and move in the direction of the wind. 

Overall, I found the experience to be very fun with a great mix of theory and practice. I now know that windmills are very impressive and great sources of energy accumulation. It was also interesting to hear about the various strides that Spain is making in renewable energy.

Me with my Spanish friends and our windmills

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