Yes. Surveys in European countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom find that more than 60% of respondents have positive views about wind energy. People who live close to wind turbines usually are even more favourable about this way of getting electricity – 80% of them support wind energy. Wind turbines are usually a good way to attract the attention of tourists, and developers or large wind parks usually install visitor centres, as well.
No, it’s the cheapest source of energy among alternative sources of energy. The economic advantage of wind turbines very much depends on the strength of the wind and on the number of turbines. The value of 1 kW of energy from a wind turbine is around the same as 1 kW of energy from a new power station that uses coal (USD 0.04/kW). Several research studies have shown that the cost of producing wind energy will continue to decline.
No. Large and modern wind turbines are very quiet to the point where the rustling of leaves on trees and bushes fully mutes the sound at a distance of 200 metres.
Wind turbines do not have any harmful effect in the environment in which they are used. Accidents, if any, relate to the construction and servicing of the turbines. Using them is safe.
Yes, it is ideal for such countries. Manufacturing of wind turbines is a high-tech process, but turbines can easily be installed and serviced in countries with developing economies. The manufacturers of wind turbines train service personnel for them. Installation of turbines provides jobs in the relevant region, and manufacturers often manufacture the heaviest parts of the turbines (towers, for instance) at local companies, because that can be cheaper than transporting them from other countries.
Wind turbines produce electricity only on the basis of the wind, which means that modern 1000 kW wind turbines save as much as 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions that come from other types of power plants that produce the same amount of energy (those that burn coal, for instance). During the course of 20 years, which is the normal lifespan of a wind turbine, it can produce as much as eight times more energy than was used to install, manage and dismantle it. In other words, it takes two or three years before the energy that is used to install and manage the turbine pays off.
Wind energy is a rapidly growing market, up by 40% every year since 1993 and with growth predicted at a rate of no less than 20% in future years. There are more than 40 manufacturers of wind turbines today, with approximately one-half of them coming from Denmark. Wind energy is popular in developed countries, because it does not create harmful emissions. For developing countries, in turn, wind turbines can be installed quite quickly, and no fuel is needed to operate them. The wind turbine industry is worth more than USD 6 billion, and given increasing environmental demands, the industry is expanding rapidly.
There is a lot of wind, and it will never end. The amount of wind above shallow parts of seas that abut Europe could theoretically satisfy demand for electricity on the continent several times over.
Wind energy can be different. Over the course of time, turbines have become larger, and they produce more energy. A typical turbine manufactured in Denmark in 1980 had a 26 kW generator and a rotor with a dimension of 10.5 metres. Today the diameter is 54 metres, and the turbine has a 1,000 kW generator. It produces 2 to 3 million kilowatt hours of energy each year, which is equal to the annual power consumption of 500 to 800 households in Europe. Latest-generation wind turbines have 1,000 to 2,500 kW generators and rotors with a diameter of 50-80 metres.
Yes. Progress in aerodynamics, the speed of construction and micro-meteorology has facilitated an increase in energy production for each square metre of the rotors of a wind turbine of up to 5% each year. New technologies are increasingly being used, and over the course of the last five years, the weight of turbines manufactured in Denmark has declined, the sound level has diminished during the past three years, and annual energy output from turbines has increased by as many as 100 times over during the past 15 years.
No, these are trustworthy machines. The turbines produce electricity only when the wind is blowing, and that means that the amount of energy depends on each gust of wind. The lifespan of a wind turbine is around 120,000 working hours, and they must be installed on the basis of very precise requirements so as to ensure the intensity of their operations and their lifespan. High-quality and modern wind turbines have a work readiness co-efficient of more than 98%, which means that on average, the turbines will work 98% of the time during the course of the year. This beats any other electricity production technology. Modern wind turbines need an inspection only once every six months of us.
Wind turbines take up very little land. They and their access roads typically take up less than 1% of the territory of a typical wind park. The other 99% of the land can be used for farming, livestock breeding, etc.
Wind energy respects the values of landscapes. If they are to be effective, they have to be set up in an open area that is windy. That means that they are very visible. Before installation, however, agreement is usually reached on colour and design so that the machines fit in with the surrounding landscape as much as possible. There are no strict guidelines in this regard, so much depends not just on the installers of the turbines, but also on the landscape and local architectural traditions. Like other human-made buildings, successfully installed wind turbines and wind parks can offer interesting solutions and add new architectural value to a territory.
Only to a minimal degree. Manufacturers of wind turbines and installers of wind parks have accumulated experience that allows them to minimise the effects of construction and installation work in ecologically sensitive areas such as swamps, mountains and seashore zones. Restoration of the surrounding landscape is common practice for those who build wind parks. After the lifespan of the park ends, the wind turbines can be used again or dismantled entirely. The cost of scrap metal from wind turbines can fully cover all of the cost of restoring the former location to the appearance that it had before.
No. Wild animals and cattle graze under them, while sheep look for shelter from the wind behind them. Birds often bang into human-built structures such as power lines, poles or buildings, but that very seldom happens when it comes to wind turbines. The latest research from Denmark shows that power lines that lead from wind parks affect the mortality of birds far more than the wind parks do themselves. Studies in the Netherland, Denmark and the United States also show that the overall influence of wind parks is negligible in comparison to the effect of road traffic on birds.
Yes. The amount of produced energy is proportional to the speed of wind cubed. Wind that is two times faster, therefore, produces eight times more energy. That’s why manufacturers and developers go to great lengths to place turbines in places that are as windy as possible. Uneven terrain and the presence of buildings, trees and even bushes affect wind speed at the relevant location. A very uneven terrain or high barriers nearby by create turbulence and gusts that reduce the amount of energy output and can damage or shorten the lifespan of the turbines. It is quite hard to calculate the amount of energy that will come from a single turbine with any precision. Detailed area maps (covering as much as 3 km in terms of dominant wind directions) are needed, as are precise meteorological measurements of wind speed over the course of at least a year. The economic success of a wind energy project will also depend on the experience of manufacturers and installers.
Absolutely. Wind conditions on seashores can seem ideal for wind projects, but very economically advantageous locations can also be found in the heartland. When a wind crosses a mountain or blows through gaps between mountains, the air is compressed, and the wind speed increases very substantially. Rounded hilltops with a broad view in the direction of prevailing winds will be ideal for turbines. High wind towers are another way to increase energy output, because wind speed is considerably higher up in the air. In areas where there are weak winds, manufacturers offer special turbines with huge rotors. These can ensure very high output indicators even when wind speeds are relatively low.
Wind energy is a measurable technology and can be used in various ways, from small battery chargers to industrial-size, 1.5 megawatt turbines that can provide electricity to 1,000 households.