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The search for better sensors

The common goal to increase energy efficiency is driving the development of ever more reliable pressure sensors for use in wind turbines, says Mike Powers.

Maximising energy efficiency protects profit margins and strengthens businesses; it also satisfies our human need to know that we are all working towards sustainability. Pressure sensors have played a major role in increasing the efficiency of wind turbines; boosting the growth of an industry that has the proven ability to offer stable, sustainable energy supplies and cut our carbon emissions. Not only do sensors make wind turbines cost effective to run, consolidating the case for more wind farms and a corresponding increase in investment, they provide this support over the long term, offering the continued reliability that dramatically reduces the need for costly maintenance and replacement.

This year, the total global capacity of wind farms moved beyond 200 gigawatts. That means wind turbines now have the capacity to satisfy 2.5 per cent of the world’s demand for electricity – impressive figures for a technology that is relatively new as a mass-produced tool for the supply of energy. After all, it was not until the late 20th century that a tipping point was reached in our attitude to the environment and wind power was no longer seen as an optional alternative but a vital component in the global plan to increase the provision of renewable energy.

However, despite this change in attitudes, wind power is continually asked to prove itself. Though most commentators would agree that a portfolio of solutions is required to satisfy the world’s colossal demand for energy, the progress of the wind power industry is under constant scrutiny. Almost inevitably, the first wave of wind turbines were hampered by problems, notably a rather short gearbox lifespan, and while the industry learns and adapts, there is the knowledge that the rest of the world is constantly looking over its shoulder and, in some quarters, arguing that wind power is ineffective and inefficient.


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