The advantages and disadvantages of wind?

The advantages and disadvantages of wind power

wind turbine at sea

Here at PIF we've alluded to the growing significance of wind power on more than one occasion. We thought it was high time to cast our eye over the technology involved, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of wind power.

What is wind power?

According to Wikipedia: “Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electrical power, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships.

“Large wind farms consist of hundreds of individual wind turbines which are connected to the electric power transmission network. For new constructions, onshore wind is an inexpensive source of electricity, competitive with or in many places cheaper than fossil fuel plants”
“Small onshore wind farms provide electricity to isolated locations,” they add. “Utility companies increasingly buy surplus electricity produced by small domestic wind turbines. Offshore wind is steadier and stronger than on land, and offshore farms have less visual impact, but construction and maintenance costs are considerably higher.”

Stats: The Global Wind Energy Council's (GWEC) wind in numbers -

Video: Wind Power: The Truth

How does wind power work?

“The wind passes over the blades creating lift (like an aircraft wing) which causes the rotor to turn,” begins Global Wind Day. “The blades turn a low-speed shaft inside the nacelle: gears connect the low speed shaft of the rotor with a high speed shaft that drives a generator. Here, the slow rotation speed of the blades is increased to the high speed of generator revolution. Some wind turbines do not contain a gearbox and instead use a direct drive mechanism to produce power from the generator.”wind-turbine how it works

They add: “The rapidly spinning shaft drives the generator to produce electric energy. Electricity from the generator goes to a transformer which converts it to the right voltage for the electricity grid. The electricity is then transmitted via the electricity network.”

See here for further explanation

Where are the biggest wind power stations?

Many of the largest operational onshore wind farms are located in the United States and China. For example, the Gansu Wind Farm in China has a capacity of over 5,000 MW of power with a goal of 20,000 MW by 2020. The Alta Wind Energy Center in California, United States is the largest onshore wind farm outside of China, with a capacity of 1,020 MW. As of April 2013, the 1,000 MW London Array in the UK is the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

Which countries are the biggest producers of wind power?

China and the US are the two biggest producers of onshore power, whilst the UK – closely followed by Denmark – is the largest offshore wind energy producer. As of 2011, Denmark was generating more than a quarter of its electricity from wind and 83 countries around the world are using wind power to supply the electricity grid.

“In 2010 wind energy production was over 2.5% of total worldwide electricity usage, and growing rapidly at more than 25% per annum,” according to Wikipedia.Largest wind farm in california

What are the advantages of wind power?

Wind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation and uses little land. The effects on the environment are generally less problematic than those from other power sources.

What are the disadvantages of wind power?

Like any source of renewable energy, wind power is not without its drawbacks. Chief amongst those, claim critics, are possible noise disturbance, a threat to wildlife habitats, unpredictability, unsuitability for non-coastal, low-lying countries and the visual impact on the countryside.

Global Wind Day is an annual worldwide event, celebrating the “power and possibilities” of wind, that takes place on 15 June. For more information visit

Let us know you thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of wind power?

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