Wind has transformed itself from the Cinderella of electricity generation to become the world's fastest-growing power source. In recent years, the rate of expansion has been about 30 per cent a year and by the end of 2002 some 30,000 megawatts of wind-generating capacity will have been installed worldwide. On good sites, electricity from wind is now competitive with power from new coal or nuclear plants, though not yet as cheap as gas-fired generation.
But if wind is to fulfil its promise as a leading sustainable energy source for the 21st century, many more engineers will need to be trained in the analysis, design and implementation of wind-energy systems. And this impressive new textbook from J. F. Manwell and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts will give them, and their teachers, a great deal of the key information they need.
Beginning with the history of modern wind turbines, Manwell et al proceed to give a thorough grounding in wind characteristics and resource estimation, then explain in detail the aerodynamics, mechanics, dynamics and electrical characteristics of wind turbines. There is an excellent central section on wind turbine design, followed by chapters on control, turbine siting, system design and integration, and finally the economics and environmental aspects of wind-energy systems.
Also included is a very helpful selection of problems to allow students to test their understanding of each chapter. Solutions are available at Wiley's website (www.wiley.co.uk/windenergy), with additional data and software accessible from the authors' website at the University of Massachusetts (www.ecs.umass.edu/mie/labs/rerl/index.html).
Despite its US origins, Wind Energy Explained shows only a slight bias towards American examples. Its coverage of developments in Europe, which has now overtaken America's early lead, is good. In such a rapidly expanding field, it is inevitable that even a recent textbook such as this will include some information that is already out of date - though the use of Enron wind turbines as examples is a source more of amusement than of irritation.
Although there is a good sprinkling of equations, much of the text is accessible to non-mathematically inclined readers. Wind Energy Explained can be thoroughly recommended as a comprehensive introduction to the field for engineering students, probably at final-year undergraduate or postgraduate level, and for professional engineers who need to get up to speed quickly in this challenging new area.
Godfrey Boyle co-directs the Energy and Environment Research Unit, Open University.
Wind Energy Explained: Theory, Design and Application. First edition
Author - J. F. Manwell, J. G. McGowan and A. L. Rogers
ISBN - 0 471 49972 2
Publisher - Wiley
Price - £39.95
Pages - 577