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Coal has been a source of energy for various countries within and around the world for many decades. This rock is formally identified as a dark, hardened sedimentary rock of which is formed by decayed plant substances which are then further burnt and used as a fuel hence providing energy for various tasks. The formation of the rock may take several years as opposed to the transformation of the rock to a fuel however, the process in which the rock is converted to fuel, has a negative impact on the environment.
Within South Africa, coal has been used to provide energy for household and industrial use since the discovery of the fuel on South African land consequently, coal mining commenced in various regions of the country possessing this energy-providing rock. According to studies found by energy, approximately 77% of the countries core energy requirements are sourced by this fuel. This is in relation to the easy access along with the large numbers of the fuel on South African land nevertheless; these coal mines are destroying land and put those in labor within the mines at health risks as the inhalation of the underground coal fumes may result in server health issues. In addition, to create the required energy, it is required that the rock is burnt and furthermore processed to create energy. This releases greenhouse gases, polluting the atmosphere and harming those constantly inhaling the substance.
To prevent the loss of lives and preserve our environment, it is necessary that the country adapts to an alternative, eco-friendly source of energy. There are numerous substitutes the country could consider, however; a feasible option would be the application of wind power as the main source of South African energy provider, this owing to the available land within the interior of the country along with the strong winds received along the country’s coastal regions as well as those further inland. The research will be made to discover the feasibility of this energy source within the country unpacking questions regarding its efficiency within the country along with the benefits the country could gain from the use of wind energy. This substitute should be beneficial to the country for a range of various reasons which will be discussed below.
Contrasting the energy supplied by fossil fuels such as coal, wind power (also referred to as Wind Energy) is a form of energy that is a non-polluting and renewable form of energy. For adequate energy to be generated through wind power, wind turbines with generators are built to function with assistance from prevailing winds within an area. These winds are formed by the longwave radiation along with the rotation of the earth.
Winds are formed as a result of the rotation of the Earth along with the distribution of longwave radiation from the sun. Solar energy heats up the Earth’s surface at different rates with the large landmasses heating up at a faster rate than water masses. The heat received by the land will influence the temperatures of the air surrounding it by either cooling the air or heating it up. Due to the density of this air when heated, that which is heated by the land is forced to rise due to hot air possessing a lower density consequently, being forced to rise up and cool whilst the air surrounding water masses will sink due to its value of density. The movement of the air will further create winds whilst also being influenced by the rotation of the Earth. The movement of the air possesses vast kinetic energy which can be converted into electrical power with the aid of wind turbines.
The force of the winds against the blades of the turbine causes the kinetic energy force to be transformed into mechanical energy which may be used for various activities however, with the use of a built-in generator, the mechanical energy can further be advanced and convert to electrical energy suitable for household usage and within various industries.
The diagram below illustrated by Chip Gribben from Green homes challenge depicts various parts of a wind turbine. This will assist in giving a visual view of the functioning of the turbines which is explained below.
The kinetic air received by the blades of the wind turbines will rotate the blades of which are connected to a shaft that further fuels a generator within the turbine. The generator transforms this energy and supplies an electrical current thus providing electrical energy. The process of this transformation does not require any human labor nor does it release detrimental toxins into the environment hence why South Africa should resort to wind power as opposed to the countries current source of energy.
Industrial wind power projects are often built within open land areas due to the required space for effective functioning. The objective of placing the turbines within open land is due to the fact that the turbines require constant airflow consequently; these winds received by the turbines may not be obstructed or deflected by an opposing object. However, wind power may also be sued within residential lands, therefore, limiting the effectiveness of the turbine as residents have limited open lands as there are various obstructions including houses and/or tress within the observed area nevertheless, Wind Farms may be constructed at a rational distance from households with the use of transmission lines which will be connected from the source to the various households within a region.
Research made by Richard Gaughan found evidence that the distance of the turbines from influencers impacts the efficiency furthermore discovering that household turbines require a distance of 150 meters from different wind barriers to producing sufficient power. In addition, the blades of the rotor demand a height of 9 meters, exceeding that of their obstructers. Furthermore, the wind turbines constructed for industrial use within wind farms require a minimum spacing of 7 rotor meters from one other. These studies made by Richard revealed that spacing the rotors at this sufficient distance will enhance the performance of the turbines.
As the above states, wind turbines require a large amount of space for sufficient performance. Due to various provinces within South Africa possessing open land, this alternative form of energy will be the most feasible as various regions within the country already possess sufficient winds and land to generate the necessary energy. According to rain harvest, for optimal production of electricity (by small turbines), the speed of the winds rotating the blades needs to be at a minimum rate of 16kph.
As stated by Batteries and energy technologies, wind turbines which are commonly used within households thus reduced in size, require a wind force reading between 3 and 7 on the Beaufort scale. This scale is used globally to illustrate the wind force within a region. The scale ranges from clam (0) to hurricane (12). Observations are made and the forces are further classified according to their effect on surrounding objects such as trees. The larger industrial wind turbines on wind farms require reading between 9 and 10 (±90km/h) on the scale on the word of Batteries and energy technologies. As a result of turbines being dependant on the wind force along with the availability of land, one may conclude by saying that this form of energy will be sufficient within South Africa due to the country currently possessing these requirements.
Various provinces within the interior of South Africa do not possess any inhabitants due to a range of diverse reasons one of which is the Northern Cape. This province is recognized as South Africa’s desert area as rainfall is low, therefore; the region’s agricultural activities have limitations whilst also restricting the population growth as those within this province are limited to various services. This subsequently means that the province is a practical location for wind farms due to the available space. There is limited infrastructure along with vegetation within the province, therefore, obliterating concerns of obstructers influencing the effectiveness of the turbine. In addition, the province receives a moderate breeze which produces sufficient energy for the functioning of wind turbines.
Due to this province being in an isolated desert area, it would be required to construct transition lines that will transport the converted energy from the wind turbine farm to the cities within different places. Although this will increase the cost of the projects, once built, the turbines will provide sufficient energy for a long period without the need for modifications. In addition, planting the farms within the Northern Cape will reduce the visual and noise pollution as this location is isolated and unseen/heard by residents.
South Africa possesses various suitable sites for wind energy farms. The majority of the country obtains sufficient wind forces to power the wind turbines. Other areas which may be considered to construct wind farms include the Eastern Cape. Unlike the Northern Cape, this province constantly receives strong winds. Various studies made by Vici Markering showed that the province possesses South Africa’s windiest city along with the windiest station. Port Elizabeth, amongst one of those with dominant winds, was recorded to have wind speeds of 4.3 m/s on average.
The application of wind power within South Africa has a range of benefits. Despite it being renewable and clean, this form of energy is cheap as winds are constant and independent of other factors. In addition, the use of this energy will assist South Africa in reducing the amount of pollution which is produced by current power generators such as coal. The burning of these fossil fuels is toxic however, once the country resorts to wind power as the main source of energy, the use of these natural fossil fuels will be reduced therefore preserving them for generations to come.
This form of energy does not release any pollutants into the Earth’s atmosphere when converting the winds into electricity consequently making it amongst the supreme eco-friendly energy sources. Although the turbines are considered to produce visual pollution when insight along with noise pollution, they do not entirely jeopardize the environment by releasing toxins into the atmosphere, therefore, making them more feasible than other energy alternatives.
Concerns may arise with discussions relating to the placing of the turbines as they are only effective when placed within open areas away from obstructing objects. Due to South Africa having a large agricultural sector that provides the country with various foods whilst some is traded amongst neighboring countries, constructing wind turbine farms may be a concern to local farms as the land used for agricultural growth will be used to plant wind turbines. However, the turbines, once constructed, do not disrupt the ground beneath thus farming may continue without complications. This would be a benefit for the country as land will be used to perform two activities.
In addition, wind energy can be supplied in various regions thus one is able to provide isolated, areas with electricity from wind turbines. In these cases, the supply of modern-day electricity producers would be unrealistic or too costly to transmit the energy. This energy is very reliable as it is renewable and sustainable. Due to the functioning of the turbines relying primarily on winds, the country does not need to worry about replacement when facing a possibility of winds stopping as they will always be present whilst they also do not require high maintenance.
Once constructed and the turbine is functioning at its optimal potential, the wind turbines will last a long period of time without the necessity of yearly reviews. Whilst providing energy for the country, the wind turbine industry creates jobs within various sectors. One may obtain a job within the construction phase whilst furthermore pursuing employment within the manufacturing of the turbines or as a wind turbine consultant.
Although this form of energy has a lot of benefits once constructed, there are a few disadvantages the country could encounter before the manufacturing of the turbine farms as costs prior to the construction is high. The government will be required to survey various locations within the country measuring the wind speed to find the most suitable place for the wind turbines which may be costly. The construction of the farms is also pricey nevertheless, once these stages have been overcome, a small amount of capital will be required for optimal functioning as wind is free.
Furthermore, wind turbines have negative impacts on the wildlife/ecosystem within the regions they are placed in. Birds often fly into the blades of the turbine thus killing them and reducing the species. The construction of the turbines also negatively impacts ground species are the wholes dug will ruin the land of which small insects acquire.
Despite these minor disadvantages, the discussed advantages will assist the efficiency of energy within South Africa as these outweigh the disadvantages.
South Africa is required to resort to an alternative energy provider as the current supply is insufficient and is threatening our environment however, due to the available land along with the force of the wind received by South Africa, the implementation of wind power will effectively produce energy for the country. The studies obtained allow us to conclude that this energy source is feasible for use within South Africa.
This alternative of energy is reliable and eco-friendly. Unlike the fossil fuels currently used by the country, no pollutants are released by the use of this source of energy which is beneficial to the country as South Africa is currently releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases in order to provide electricity for various activities.
Incorporating wind energy as the main source of energy will be beneficial to the country as not only does the use of turbines reduce the amount of pollution released but, as discussed, the land on which the turbines are built is not affected therefore allowing other agricultural activates to resume without disturbance from the wind turbines. Despite the minor disadvantages, wind power is sufficient and obtains numerable advantages of which will assist the country in reducing the amounts of greenhouse gasses released along with reducing the unemployment percentages of the country.
For the various reasons mentioned above, we can conclude by saying that South Africa should convert to this energy source. As a result of South Africa possessing sufficient winds along with open areas, the functioning of the turbines will be effective as strong forces of unobstructed winds are required for effective functioning of which regions within South Africa already meet these specifications therefore, the project costs will be reduced as the country is not required to create additional space for the placing of the turbines.
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