The Global Wind Energy Council’s figures showed 54GW added in 2016, bringing the total cumulative installations at the end of 2016 at 487GW. link.
During 2014 wind power avoided over 608 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. In Europe, one 6MW offshore wind turbine can power 5,500 homes, and currently in the EU wind power capacity covers 10.2% of electricity consumption powering over 73 million homes. Source
Around the world wind power is emerging as the most serious source of new clean energy.
The most comprehensive study to date found the potential of wind power on land and near-shore to be approximately 72 terawatts. Currently humans use about 7 TW from all sources globally. (A terawatt is 1 trillion watts, the power generated by more than 500 nuclear reactors or thousands of coal-burning plants.) Wind energy alone could provide enough power ten times over to provide for all of our needs. This page explores its continuing expansion and application and how other nations see it as a crucial response to global warming.
|Extreme weather and wind turbines. As of August 2017, no wind farm in the United States has been destroyed by a hurricane – link Also the tsunami which struck Fukushima in 2011 left wind farms unaffected and supplying power – link|
- Wind power globally
- New technologies / energy storage
- Wind power at sea
- Wind turbines – effects on birds. bats and wildlife
- Small-scale wind power
Wind power globally
April 2017: GWEC wind power forecast – more than 800GW globally by 2021. In 2016, more than 54GW of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market, which now comprises more than 90 countries, including nine with more than 10,000MW installed, and 29 which have now passed the 1,000MW mark. Cumulative capacity grew by 12.6% to reach a total of 486.8GW. Wind power penetration levels continue to increase, led by Denmark pushing 40% followed by Uruguay, Portugal and Ireland with well over 20%, Spain and Cyprus around 20%, Germany at 16%, and the big markets of China, the U.S. and Canada get 4, 5.5, and 6% of their power from wind, respectively. Looking at our rolling five-year forecast, we see just under 60GW installed globally in 2017, a more or less flat 2018 and then growth again out through the end of the decade to bring total installations up to just over 800GW by the end of 2021, with the annual market rising to 75GW in that year. link
March 2017: World’s largest floating windfarm to be built off Scottish coast. Scotland hopes to become a world leader in floating wind turbine technology. Eight six-megawatt turbines will be installed about 15km south-east of Aberdeen and will provide enough power for about 56,000 homes. link
July 2016: Global wind market report for 2015. In 2015, 63.1GW of wind power capacity was added globally, a 23.2% increase from the 51.2 GW installed in 2014. On a cumulative basis, global wind power capacity grew to 434.1 GW in 2015 from 372.3 GW in 2014.The degree to which the Asian markets are driving wind demand, particularly China, cannot be overstated. The combined markets of South and East Asia represented 52.6% of global wind power capacity, up from 50.6% in 2014. Almost all of this annual record was driven by China, which installed a remarkable 30.2 GW, up from a record 23.3 GW in 2014, itself was an incredible achievement. link
November 2011: Onshore wind to reach grid parity by 2016. Analysts say perception of wind power as ‘expensive and intermittent’ is out of date as equipment costs fall and output soars. Electricity produced by onshore wind farms will cost the same as that from fossil fuel plants by 2016, as efficiency increases and equipment costs plummet. Research published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that the best wind farms in the world already produce power as economically as coal, gas and nuclear generators, and predicts a 12% drop in price over the next five years. link
February 2016: China becomes wind power leader. In 2015 China added an “astonishing” 30.5GW to boost installations to 145.1GW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). It overtook the EU total for the first time, which added a record 6GW to increase its capacity to 141.6GW. link
|Intermittency of wind power – just a myth.
July 2009: Three reports published over the last month dismiss the variability of wind as an obstacle to large scale deployment of wind energy, says the British Wind Energy Association, which has welcomed the findings of Managing Variability, which resonate with the conclusions of two other independent studies published in June on wind power by National Grid, and earlier in July by Povry. With strong evidence from grid operators across Europe that it is within existing technical capabilities to manage input from windfarms in real time, the report notes that “thermal plant breakdowns generally pose more of a threat to the stability of electricity networks than the relatively benign variations in the output of wind plant.” The report is the final nail in the coffin of the myth of intermittency. link
Off-shore wind expanding
January 2018: Expectation that off-shore wind will reach 115GW worldwide by 2030. Oil giants see a future in offshore wind power. Globally, 17.6GW of wind power capacity have been installed offshore, with most of it in Europe, and the industry is growing. Bloomberg New Energy Finance raised its offshore wind forecast this week, with an expectation that it will reach 115GW worldwide by 2030. As major global oil and gas companies and supply chain companies are moving into the offshore wind game, the market is ripe for large-scale projects that could not only generate more wind power in the U.S. but bring costs down and create jobs. link
More than 90% of the world’s offshore wind power is currently installed off northern Europe, in the North, Baltic and Irish Seas, and the English Channel. Most of the rest is in two ‘demonstration’ projects off China’s east coast. China has set itself a target of 30 GW of installations off its coast by 2020. At the end of 2014 the total offshore global wind capacity was 8,759MW. link
October 2016: IRENA: Off-shore wind could grow 65% in 15 years. Falling costs of offshore wind energy technology and ongoing technological innovations within the sector could drive a surge in worldwide uptake and deployment. Wind energy innovations are set to reduce the overall costs of energy from windfarms by 57% over time, IRENA says. link
|Wind power in India.
(December 2012) India’s wind capacity to expand rapidly by 2020. India’s installed wind power capacity is expected to reach 89GW by 2020 and 191GW by 2030, according to a new report. This expansion in wind power is expected to attract $16.5 billion of annual investment, create 179,000 jobs and abate 179 tonnes of CO2 annually, the Wind Energy Outlook reported. link
Wind power in Africa.
July 2015: Kenya’s new wind farm will provide around 17% of country’s power. Ground has been broken on a major renewable energy project for Kenya. The 310MW wind farm will be some 300 miles north of the capital city of Nairobi. The farm, which will consist of 365 turbines when fully completed in mid-2017, will be the largest in Africa – overpowering Morocco’s Tarfaya wind farm, currently Africa’s biggest project with 131 turbines. link
February 2015: 2015 may well become the year of the wind farm in Africa. A flurry of signed deals and ground breaking for new wind farm projects has taken place during the last few months, including several finished projects that have just gone online. And there is no sign of the pace slowing. The Wind power capacity in sub-Saharan Africa increases by around 12 gigawatts by 2040, according to the “New Policies Scenario” of the October International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook Report. In sub-Saharan Africa, high quality wind resources are confined to a few areas, mainly the Horn of Africa, eastern Kenya, parts of West and Central Africa bordering on the Sahara and parts of Southern Africa, according to the Africa Energy Outlook report. Somalia has the highest onshore potential of any country, followed by Sudan, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt, Madagascar and Kenya. The report notes that sub-Saharan Africa’s wind potential could “produce several times the current level of total African electricity consumption. link
July 2013: AfDB expects African wind power capacity to increase ten-fold. According to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) countries with significant wind power potential include Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt, Madagascar, Kenya and Chad. There are 76 wind power projects examined in the report, which also breaks down the projects by technology manufacturers. link
New technologies and energy storage
April 2018: When it comes to wind turbines, size matters. LM Wind Power, a General Electric firm, announced in March that it hopes to develop a giant 12MW wind turbine by the year 2020. A single turbine this size, standing 260m tall, could produce enough electricity to power 16,000 households. The world’s current largest wind turbine is a third less powerful than that, generating 8MW. Various companies, including Siemens, are working on turbines around the 10MW mark. link
March 2018: Aging wind farms repowering with more efficient turbines. As America’s biggest wind farms age, owners are starting to “repower” them with more efficient turbines, new electronics and longer, lighter blades that can sweep more wind with each rotation. New blades and technology updates have completely “revitalized” two Leeward Energy wind farms near Sweetwater, Texas, saving the company money and allowing the farm to generate more energy. link
April 2016: Vestas to challenge scaling rule with multi-rotor turbine. Vestas has unveiled a multi-rotor concept machine that it says could help challenge the rule that wind turbines must always increase in scale to boost power output. The four-rotor demonstrator turbine at the Risø test site is part of a process of continuous innovation and exploration designed to help reduce the cost of energy from wid. link
September 2016: New wind turbines proposed in Japan. Atsushi Shimizu is the inventor of the world’s first typhoon turbine, an extremely durable, eggbeater-shaped device that can not only withstand the forces generated by a typhoon (Japan received six in 2016), it can convert all that power into useable energy. Shimizu’s calculations show that a sufficiently large array of his turbines could capture enough energy from a single typhoon to power Japan for 50 years. link
May 2015: A wind turbine without blades. The turbine is just a hollow straw that sticks up 40 feet from the ground and vibrates like a guitar string when the wind thrums by. Instead of capturing energy via the circular motion of a propeller, the Vortex takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of spinning vortices. At the base of the cone are two rings of repelling magnets, which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor. When the cone oscillates one way, the repelling magnets pull it in the other direction, like a slight nudge to boost the mast’s movement regardless of wind speed. This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator that multiplies the frequency of the mast’s oscillation to improve the energy-gathering efficiency. The result is a turbine that’s 50% less expensive than a bladed one, and nearly silent. And while each Vortex turbine is also 30% less efficient at capturing energy, wind farms can double the number of turbines that occupy a given area if they go bladeless. That’s a net energy gain of 40%. Plus, the turbine has no gears or moving parts; theoretically maintenance could be much easier than a traditional bells-and-whistles spinning one. link
Wind turbines and hurricane winds.
(December 2013) Wind turbines have a hurricane mode, designed to let them ride out major wind storms without damage. Basically, the blades get pitched to neutral so that wind forces them to not rotate, then they are locked down facing into the wind. It’s engineering, just as turbines are slimmed down for areas with lower breezes so that they could generate better there. link
December 2014: Innovative wind turbines 1,000 times more efficient. A team at the University of Wollongiong is in the final stages of developing offshore wind turbines that are 1,000 times more efficient at one-third the cost of traditional turbines. Using superconductors to replace gearboxes, this converts wind energy into electricity without any loss of power, and cuts the cost of turbines from today’s $15m to $3-5m each. link
| How big can wind turbines get?
There are well over 30 different significant manufacturers currently delivering wind turbines rated at more than 1 MW and more than 130 different models of varying capacities.
January 2014: 8MW turbine starts generating power. link
|January 2013: Apple re-inventing the wind turbine. Apple patent suggests using wind turbines that converts rotational energy from turbine blades into heat, which is then stored and used to generate electricity when necessary. Today’s turbines often turn kinetic energy from turbine blade rotation directly into mechanical energy or electricity – more
February 2011: An alternative to large turbines. Vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), is classified as a ” the spinning mechanism that sits at ground level, rather than atop a tower, with two arms reaching up and out in a V-shape that spans 900 feet across. The vertical orientation means its weight does not alter its efficiency as it rotates, which does occur in horizontal axis turbines, and it can take advantage of wind coming from any direction. The new turbine design causing a lot of excitement, promising 10 megawatts per machine and potentially more as the design scales up–around three times the current yield of wind-power generators. A prototype is slated for completion by 2013. link
August 2013: Turbines do not affect house prices study – link
July 2011: Direct drive may replace less efficient gearboxes. A different drive train design that eliminates the gearbox between a turbine’s rotor and generator is attracting wind turbine manufacturers in the quest for higher power output, increased offshore reliability, and potential cost savings over the system’s lifetime. link
|Energy storage: Important new industry (See also Battery Storage page)
January 2017: Edison and Tesla unveil giant energy storage system. Tesla and SoCal Edison have unveiled one of the world’s largest energy storage facilities. link
December 2013: New storage technologies. Three new technologies are now emerging as potential long term solutions as alternatives to battery storage technologies, which many consider either simply be too expensive, or not have enough capacity to solve some of the long term issues. link
June 2010: Large kites could harvest the fast crosswinds at high altitude. Airborne wind turbines will take off and fly to around 2000 feet, where they will float, generating power that can be transferred to the ground via a tether. “Global wind is a tremendous source of energy carrying nearly 870 terrawatts in global tropospheric winds,” says JoeBen Bevirt who is developing the wind turbine technology. “In comparison, the global demand is 17 terawatts. Harnessing a tiny fraction will transform the way we power our civilization.” link
Kite Wind Generator, or KitGen.
December 2009: Kite wind generator. Some experts estimate that the total energy contained in wind is 100 times the amount needed by everyone on the planet. However, most of this energy is at high altitudes, far beyond the reach of any wind turbine. The catch is that we have to learn and devise ways to trap this wind power blowing across the planet earth. The Kite Wind Generator, simply known as KiteGen, is an Italian company. link
Wind power use at sea
March 2017: “Spinning sails.” Invented a century ago, rotating columns fixed to ships interact with wind to provide forward thrust and could lead to 10% fuel savings on ocean tankers. link
Sail-powered cargo ship test results in: It cut fuel by 20%. Early 2008, the MV Beluga SkySails, a cargo ship rigged up with a billowing 160-meter sail from Sky Sails, used approximately 20 percent less fuel than it would have without the sail during a two-month voyage. Put another way, that’s 2.5 tons of fuel, or $1,000 a day, in operating costs. Beluga Shipping ultimately hopes to save $2,000 a day with the technology. The ship left Bremen, Germany, on the 22nd of January, sailed to Venezuela, and then headed toward the Norwegian port of Mo-I-Rana, docking on March 13. In all, the ship sailed 11,952 nautical miles. The sail was up, depending on the winds, from between 5 minutes and 8 hours a day. link [Ships engaged in international trade account for 2.7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from human activities – this contributes about a billion tonnes of CO2. That’s more than the entire economies of Germany or the UK.]
Wind turbines – effects on birds. bats and wildlife
September 2013: Latest study on wind farms – bird deaths. As a new study that finds wind-energy farms directly caused the deaths of hundreds of eagles since the late 1990s, fatalities of golden eagles at modern wind facilities represent only 2% of all documented sources of human-caused eagle fatalities. Other studies have found that wind farms are responsible for a variety of bird deaths, but ultimately concluded that their avian death toll is negligible when compared to that of other power plants. One study identified 20,000 avian deaths from wind farms in 2009 but found that in that same year, 330,000 birds were killed by nuclear power plants, and more than 14 million were killed by fossil-fueled power plants. link British Trust for Ornithology finds 99% of birds avoid wind turbines – link
April 2012: Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations. A new study, the largest carried out in the UK into the impact of onshore windfarms on bird life, quashed fears that onshore windfarms are causing long-term damage to bird populations, but found new evidence that some species are harmed when windfarms are built. The study concluded that a large majority of species can co-exist or thrive with windfarms once they are operating. link
March 2009: British bird society calls for more wind farms. Ruth Davis, head of climate change policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said it was in favour of such an expansion because of the “truly terrifying” impact that global warming was increasingly having on birds. “Left unchecked, climate change threatens many species with extinction,” she said. link
June 2017: Fossil fuel plants pose a much higher threat to birds than wind turbines. A 2009 study concluded wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh. link
January 2016: Bats and wind turbines. Bats are often considered “key species” ecologically speaking in many regions. The wind industry is addressing bat-related risks from a number of different vantage points, some of which have been voluntary. The AWEA initiated a protocol which involves implementing an effective mitigation approach whereby wind turbine blades are “feathered” where the rotational speed of the wind turbine is significantly reduced, helping bats to more safely navigate through areas with wind turbines present. Some research suggests that feathering blades has reduced bat fatalities in one project by up to 72%. link
September 2015: Wind industry plans serious changes to protect bats – link
March 2011: Wind turbines effects on bats. While more than a million bats have died due to a fungal disease called White-Nose Syndrome since 2006, at the same time, several migratory tree-dwelling species are being killed in unprecedented numbers by wind turbines. It is unknown how many bats have died due to wind turbines, but scientists estimate by 2020, wind turbines will have killed 33,000 to 111,000 annually in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands alone. This hurts the economy because bats’ diet of pest insects reduces the damage the insects cause to crops and decreases the need for pesticides. Why migratory tree-dwelling species are drawn to the turbines remains a mystery. link
July 2009: Wind turbines and bats. Radar beams that irritate bats could be used to prevent the animals from being diced by the spinning blades of wind turbines, according to a study of how the animals react to radar signals. link
September 2009: Mitigating wildlife dangers – link
Small scale wind energy
July 2012: Thailand – where turbines power a country that isn’t windy. 70% of the area in the world has a low wind speed. Dr. Roy is a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in Bangkok and owner of a company that specializes in low wind-speed turbines. He is excited about the prospects for wind energy in Thailand, but insists that it must be done correctly.
A few years ago, during the fuel crisis in Thailand, wind energy suddenly became popular. Regular large windmills from abroad look like a monument but they don’t rotate until a storm comes. Low speed, decentralized wind turbines can be put anywhere and are small, light structures, like ants feeding the grid. link
March 2011: Small wind energy systems are experiencing significant growth as the technology finally appears to be coming of age. These systems are now more reliable, quieter and safer than those introduced in past decades. Typically generating just enough power to meet the demands of a home, farm or small business, small wind energy systems belong to a renewables genre that continues to grow. Currently, some 250 companies in 26 countries manufacture, or plan to manufacture, small wind turbines, according to latest figures released by the American Wind Energy Association. The world’s leading 15 manufacturers continue to predict exponential sales growth in the US market over the next five years, with projections of over 1000 MW of cumulative installed small wind capacity in America by 2015. link
A new design wind-powered turbine overcomes height restrictions and noise problems and is said to be friendly to birds and bats. The Helix Wind Savonious 2.0 is a 2kW rated turbine that can be tower-mounted between 14 and 35 feet or roof mounted just 2 feet above roof line. The rotor measures 6ft by 4ft and utilizes long helical blade scoops to maximize energy performance in turbulent, gusty or multi-directional wind conditions. link
VAWT’s or Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. VAWT’s are an economical alternative for residential and small commercial applications where wind power can now be harnessed at lower wind speeds and without expensive towers. Due to the unique design of their vertically installed blades, VAWT’s are less affected by turbulent air than standard horizontal axis wind turbines or HAWT’s. This makes VAWT’s better suited for residential areas where obstacles such as other houses, buildings and trees generally disturb the airflow. link
Bringing wind turbines to ordinary rooftops. Rooftop turbines send the electricity they generate straight on to the home’s circuit box. Then owners in a suitably wind-swept location can watch the needle on their electricity meter turn backward instead of forward, reducing their utility bills while using a renewable resource. link
|Why windmills are always white, and why do they have three blades? Some answers
Purple shown to be best color for wildlife in studies – link
|For more information about wind power, follow these links: