Nature generously gives a gift for the humans on this earth a source of "free" fuel, a tremendous renewable energy resource. It is the wind, or wind energy.
Now, many countries are widely using the power produced from wind turbines. But hundreds of years ago, many nations knew how to use the strength of wind instead of muscle strength to run windmills and to pull sail boats cross the ocean or to push hot air balloons in the air.
Anyone who once visits Nordic countries would have the opportunity to see along the highways, not only old windmills but also the new wind turbines.
A windmill on Bogo Islands, Denmark, one of the thousands of windmills in northern Europe, the predecessor of today's wind power plants
The images of wind turbines have spread to 80 countries around the world in the last 5-10 years. That exponential growth is now even wider when the whole world is trying to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, coal and natural gas, to limit the harmful effects of greenhouse gases that cause climate change and the drying up of hydroelectric power.
In a not-too-distant future, next to nuclear energy, wind energy will be seen as a major alternative.
The Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, dated September 11, published a study which confirms that the earth has plenty of wind to generate huge power source for all humanity.
In the last 5-10 years, the potential of wind has been exploited. A young "wind horse" has risen to his feet. The United Nations recently launched data demonstrating that wind power capacity has grown rapidly worldwide and reached a new record of 238,000 MW, equivalent to the capacity of 238 nuclear power reactors, enough to provide the electricity to 380 million people.
Only in 2011, the global wind power capacity increased by 41,000 MW, projected to increase by no less than 100 percent by 2016. Wind energy is expected to increasingly assert its position, and by 2030 wind power will reach the second largest position, after thermal power.
Also in 2011, China took the lead in the world in wind power capacity, with a total capacity of about 63,000 MW, followed by the U.S. with a capacity of 47,000 MW. Germany ranked third in the world and wind power accounted for more than 9 percent of the total national electricity grid.
By continents, Europe with a capacity of 100,000 MW of wind power surpassed other continents for wind power. In particular, Germany, Denmark, Spain, England and France are the countries with the developed wind power industry.
Latin America, Africa and the Middle East are also quick to exploit wind energy, for example in 2011, Brazil's wind power capacity increased by 63 percent compared to 2010...
"Silver sea" and the "golden opportunity"
The wind turbines on the Baltic coast, Germany. Photo: Tran Thanh Minh
Previously we talked a lot but ambiguously about Vietnam’s "gold sea and silver forest," but now we can express it in certain figures, that Vietnam has "silver sea." With over 3,260 km of coastline, Vietnam is a country with great potential for wind power.
According to a government survey, Vietnam has about 17,400 hectares of the land area which is considered suitable for wind power development. The World Bank also had a detailed survey of wind energy in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam.
According to the survey, more than 39 percent of the territory of Vietnam has wind speeds of greater than 6 m per second; including about 8.6 percent of the area rated to be very good for building large wind power stations, compared to 0.2 percent in Cambodia, 2.9 percent in Laos and only 0.2 percent in Thailand.
If that potential is converted into electric power, Vietnam has the wind power potential equivalent to a capacity of 531,360 MW, or more than 200 times the capacity of the Son La hydropower plant, or of 500 nuclear reactors.
Of course, in practice, due to various reasons, we cannot make all potential into power sources. However, that potential is the fundamental basis to facilitate construction of the adequate wind power industry, which will act as pillar in the not too far future.
Along with the potential, the wind power industry also has tremendous advantages, a "golden opportunity" when the State has a policy to develop this power, given the goals and specific route in the electricity development master plan. Accordingly, wind energy is considered the most important source of electricity generation and will be developed from the current negligible level to about 1,000 MW by 2020 and 6,200 MW by 2030.
The "silver sea" potential is one thing, but making it into reality is a different story. That worry has its reason if we look at the first steps on the path of developing wind power in Vietnam.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam has developed wind power for a decade. In the first phase, the country installed small wind turbines with capacity from 30KW to 150KW.
By the end of 2003, the country had around 1,300 wind turbines of this type. But, after a short time of operation, the majority of these turbines were damaged or did not work effectively, due to the appropriate technology, poor quality equipment and machinery and the wrong positions for placing wind turbines.
In addition, dozens of small-scale wind power projects in provinces in the southern and central coast with a total capacity of about 5.000MW are at a standstill in the research and development stage.
Obviously, on the way to build a new industry such as wind power are a lot of difficulties and challenges in many aspects, from technological complexity, high cost investment to investment policies, etc. This story will be discussed in detail in the next article.
BY Le My