The Wind Power Sector
The wind power sector is just one of several areas of renewable energy. This blog post will touch on how we get energy from wind turbines, the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy and the growth of the sector.
How does it work?
Wind is one of the most popular renewable energy sources in the UK. As an island, the coasts are ideal conditions for harnessing wind energy, and we have suitable conditions to produce a reasonable amount of energy from wind power.
- Wind turbines produce electricity by using the kinetic energy created by air.
- The blades of turbines are propelled by the wind, which captures energy.
- This energy triggers the main shaft of the wind turbine, which is connected to a gearbox, to spin.
- The gearbox converts low speed rotations of the blades to high-speed rotations that can power the generator.
- The gearbox then sends the energy to the generator which transforms it into electricity.
- Anemometers and wind vanes measure wind speed and direction. This means the turbine can be rotated to face directly into oncoming wind and if it’s too windy brakes can be applied to the turbine.
- This electricity then travels to a step-up transformer where its voltage levels are adjusted to match with the grid.
The growth of the wind power sector
Global installed wind-generation capacity has increased massively, from 7.5GW in 1997 to around 564GW in 2018. Wind energy production doubled between 2009 and 2014. In 2014, wind power provided 19% of all electricity from renewable sources globally and around 5% of all global electricity came from wind energy in 2019.
Wind turbine capacity has also increased over time. Turbines had a typical capacity of 0.05MW in 1985 whilst today’s have a capacity of 2MW for onshore and 3-5MW for offshore turbines. The output of energy is proportional to the size and efficiency of the turbines
The global wind energy market was valued at $62.1 billion in 2019 and is predicted to reach $127.2 billion by 2027. This growth will have a massive impact on the job market in the renewables sector as well as influence the climate and our race to combat the effects of global warming.
With the climate and energy productions a prominent issue in international politics, renewable energy is an important sector. Global Wind Energy Outlook predicts that by 2030, wind energy will offset 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon per year. Renewable energy has the potential to have a huge positive impact on our energy uses and carbon emissions. Wind power, just one sector of renewable energy, is a fast-growing industry that has great future potential. The production of and technology of wind power will only get more efficient and economic conditions are looking favourably on wind power.
While the growth of wind power is impressive and exciting, it still only plays a small part in the global production of electricity and is unlikely to take over any of the major energy sources soon.
- Cost effective in many regions – global R&D efforts are working on solutions to reduce LCOE of offshore and onshore wind power.
- It is a domestic source of energy as it harnesses local energy resources.
- A readily available and limitless resource; wind will never run out.
- It’s able to counter the effects of climate change.
- It releases very low carbon emissions, effectively zero once they are constructed.
- No sulphur dioxide emissions are released.
- Wind power will work almost anywhere in the world that has a reliable wind source.
- New jobs are created in the renewables sector with demand for specific skillsets.
- The cost doesn’t rely on world energy markets like with coal and oil.
- Must compete with other energy sources in some regions.
- There is inefficient storage of electricity, meaning it can currently only be used when available rather than when needed. However, there is a battery energy storage solution which offers new flexibility and potential new business value.
- It is opposed to on aesthetic and environmental grounds. Wind farms spoil views and can be dangerous to birds and bats.
- It has a high upfront cost which is the same as any other energy sources.
- Wind energy cannot solely supply an entire countries energy for 1 whole year unlike other energy sources such as coal, nuclear and oil.
- It doesn’t generate as much power as a conventional coal, nuclear or gas plant.
The advantages of wind power seem to outweigh the disadvantages. The fact that it cannot supply an entire countries energy supply for a year is not really a surprise, nobody expected it to. Using renewable energy sources in combination with other sources of energy is a step in the right direction and something we will be continuing to work towards and increase.
Our Environmental team recruit in and for the wind power sector, get in touch if you are looking for a role or hiring!