Wind energy is a renewable energy source that captures wind power by harnessing wind turbines and windmills, which is then generated into electricity.
Electricity is generated when the wind spins the blades of a wind turbine, which in turn spins a magnet inside a coil of conductor (called a generator).
A collection of wind turbines is known as a wind farm. The wind turbines are connected by underground cables to a power substation, where the low-voltage electricity produced by the turbines is converted to high-voltage electricity for distribution into the electricity grid.
Windmills have been used around the world for hundreds of years. The first recorded examples of wind energy being harnessed to make electricity include James Blyth’s 1887 invention to light his Scottish holiday home, and Charles F.
Brush’s automatically operated wind turbine built in 1888 in Cleveland, Ohio. Brush’s turbine, with its 17-metre rotor, provided his home with power for twenty years. Wind power has since emerged as one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources in the world.
The wind turbine with the largest capacity in the world is the offshore Vestas V164 8MW turbine installed at the National Test Centre for Large Wind Turbines in Østerild, Denmark
While some wind turbines can indeed get very large, the wind farms in Australia have wind turbines with an average 2MW capacity.
Today, many highly successful on-shore and off-shore wind energy projects exist around the globe.
Countries around the world that are currently considered leaders in wind include the UK, China, Denmark, Spain and Portugal.
When talking about being a “leader in wind”, there are a number of different statistics that are important, such as total installed capacity or percentage of growth, and penetration as proportion of the country’s energy supply. Due to these different measures, it is difficult to say that any one country or state leads the world in wind power.
For example, over the course of just one day, Denmark’s wind power produced 116% of its national electricity demands, with excess electricity exported to neighbouring countries.
Through clever planning, Denmark produces enough electricity to meet its domestic needs, as well as to export its excess energy to neighbouring countries. The Guardian reported that on over the course of just one day – July 9, 2015 – Denmark produced 116% of its national electricity demands through wind power.
As another plus, it was able to export the excess electricity to Norway, Germany and Sweden. Once domestic consumption had reduced during the early hours of the morning, Denmark’s wind power was producing 140% of its national electricity demands.
While this was an unusually windy day in Denmark, it demonstrates that a country powered by renewable energy is a possibility. According to the Danish Energy Agency, Denmark produces renewable energy through solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass and biogas. Denmark’s official website, Denmark.dk reports that wind power contributes 28% of the country’s electricity on average, and that this figure is expected to grow.
Denmark has long had a strong proactive focus on renewable energy in recent years, supported by both the country’s voters and its politicians. The Guardian also reports that Denmark has a strong new builds program with new onshore and offshore wind farms planned that will more than double the country’s current renewable energy capacity. Denmark aims to satisfy 70% of its energy requirements with renewables by the year 2020. By 2050, Denmark plans to meet 100% of its energy needs with renewable energy.
To assist public support and acceptance of onshore wind farms, the government introduced requirements on wind farm operators in 2008. These requirements included compensation from the wind farm operators to home owners if the value of their house decreases after a wind turbine is erected nearby. The community also receives an allocation of electricity directly from the local wind farms and at least 20% of the project’s shares are required to be offered to local residents, giving them the possibility to be financially invested in the project.
The Danes have also chosen to give subsidies to companies that use renewable energy and increase their energy efficiency. This policy is different from other countries that employ surcharges and aims to encourage energy efficiency creativity and monetary savings.
In rural areas Australia-wide, windmills have been used for many decades to pump bore water or even river water for various uses on farms, so harnessing the power of wind is not new.
Many parts of Australia, particularly southern regions, are quite windy, making them suitable for hosting wind turbines. Momentum Energy is proudly owned by the largest Australian energy generator of renewable energy, Hydro Tasmania. Hydro Tasmania’s operational wind farms are built in the prevailing westerly winds, the roaring 40s, which are a world class wind asset. Read more about Momentum Energy’s renewable energy.
The Clean Energy Council reports that wind power is currently the cheapest source of large-scale renewable energy. Wind power currently accounts for almost 4% of the total Australian primary energy consumption, but contributes more than 30% of Australia’s total renewable energy production.
More than 70 on-shore wind farms are operating in Australia and more are planned or under construction.
Hydro Tasmania’s operational wind farms are built in the prevailing westerly winds, the roaring 40s, which are a world class wind asset. The Musselroe Wind Farm has 56 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 168 MW – Tasmania’s
largest wind farm. A new transmission connects the wind farm to the electricity grid at Derby. View the short story of the Musselroe Wind Farm below:
Wind is generated from the heat of the sun, therefore it is not ‘used up’ after it has blown past a turbine, it continues to blow around the world. It is renewable because it can be used again and again.
Tasmania has a world-class wind energy resource – the island lies directly in the path of the roaring 40s, the prevailing westerly winds that circle the Earth’s high southern latitudes. When these winds reach the west coast of Tasmania, they have blown across the cooling Southern Ocean for thousands of kms since last touching warm land on the tip of South America.