Wind power |

Wind power

Wind power is the harnessing of the wind to provide energy.

Wind powerWind power generation has many advantages, not least it does not cause pollutants such as greenhouse gases and of course the wind is free. Although some people find them unpleasing to the eye they do take up a very small foot print on the ground although they are becoming increasingly tall.  The main disadvantage is that the wind is not a constant so wind turbines cannot produce electricity 100% of the time.  Modern turbines do achieve high degrees of efficiency however with one 1.8MW turbine being able to provide power to 1,000 households for a year and harnessing about 60% of the wind that passes through it.
The minimum wind speed for a wind turbine depends on each design but the lowest is about 5mph and they can operate up 50-55mph after which they are shut off for safety reasons.  The power of the wind that a turbine can harness is equivalent to the cube of the wind speed.  
In the UK we currently have 211 wind farm sites across off-shore and in-shore and a total of 2,434 wind turbines with a further 403 either in the construction or planning phases including the world's largest wind farm development, the London Array, off the coasts of Essex and Kent which will cover 90 square miles and contain 341 turbines.
Wind power currently represents about just under 2% of total UK power generation but set to grow.  The UK is the 6th largest wind power generator and the worlds 8th largest. Germany takes top spot in Europe followed by Spain.
Although Europe is in many ways at the forefront of wind power technology the US in 2008 became the worlds largest wind power generator -- a 50% increase on the previous year contributing to an overall 29% in world wind power in 2008.

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