Wind Power

Wind power is one of the forms of renewable energy that has been on the rise over the last few years, in fact, it has been the fastest growing energy technology over the last 20 years growing at over 25% per year. It is actually a form of solar energy seeing as winds result because the sun heats the earth unevenly causing cooler dense air to replace warmer, lighter air.

So we are going to have a look at the projects that have been commissioned, are in progress in terms of construction or working through the application and approval process or in the planning stages. It has recently been announced that wind power is the fastest growing renewable power source.

The table displayed below lists the wind power projects that have been examined here at Renewable Energy Development. it is possible to sort the table on any of the columns just by clicking the heading title. You will also notice that the project names are clickable and they will take you to the page devoted to each project.

Power Plant Name
Location
Capacity
(MW)
Status
Forward Wind Energy Center
Wisconsin, USA
129
Online 2008
Chokecherry - Sierra Madre Wind Project
Wyoming, USA
~2,000
Under Construction
Beebe Community Wind Farm
Michigan, USA
81
Online 2012
Alta East Wind Project
California, USA
153
Planning
Tuscola Bay II Wind Energy Project
Michigan, USA
100
Planning
Burgos Wind Project
Philippines
87
Planning
Black Fork Wind Project
Ohio, USA
200
Planning
Cimarron Wind Energy Project
Kansas, USA
165
Online 2012
Windstar Project
California, USA
120
Online 2012
Michigan Wind 2
Michigan, USA
90
Online 2012
Fire Island Wind Project
Alaska, USA
17.6
Online 2012
Spearville 3 Wind Energy Project
Kansas, USA
100.8
Online 2012
NaiKun Offshore Wind Energy Project
Canada
400
Planning
Fowler Ridge Wind FarmFowler Ridge Wind Farm
Indiana, USA
400
Online 2009
Fowler Ridge Wind Farm Phase II
Indiana, USA
200
Online 2010
Comber Wind Energy Project
UK
165.5
Online 2011
Waubra Wind Farm Project
Australia
192
Online 2009
Wind Power | Benton County Wind Farm
Indiana, USA
130
Online 2008
Dunlap I Wind Farm
Wyoming, USA
111
Online 2010
Crowlands Wind FarmCrowlands Wind Farm
Australia
172.5
Planning
Totoral Wind Farm
Chile
46
Online 2009
White Oak Wind Farm
Illinois, USA
150
Online 2011
Simpson Ridge Wind Farm
Wyoming, USA
Suspended
Top Crop II Wind Farm
Illinois, USA
198
Online 2010
Red Mesa Wind Farm
New Mexico, USA
102.4
Online 2011
Hereford 2 Wind Project
Texas, USA
300
Under construction

How Does Wind Power Work?

Electricity is generated when wind turns the blades of a wind turbine which converts the kinetic energy that is wind movement into electricity that can either be stored in batteries or used directly. Large quantities of electricity is generated from wind farms which contain multiple wind turbines that are connected into an electricity grid.

Considerations When Creating Power from Wind

In order to create energy from wind, an available, constant flow of wind is required. This means you can’t just plonk a bunch of wind turbines anywhere and expect to create a reliable flow of electricity. However, the distance from the wind farm to the electricity users must be fairly short to reduce the length of transmission lines. The longer the transmission lines, the greater the cost.

Wind flow must also be available at a fairly constant rate. On the surface of it, it would seem that the stronger the wind blows the better it would be and it’s true, stronger winds produce more electricity, but the challenge is to design a wind generator tower robust enough to survive the turbulent conditions created by extremely high winds. For the most part wind turbines are built the same way with the concept of large turbine blades capturing the wind and turning a rotor which in turn will power an electricity generator. A more complete picture of the components of wind turbines is available on this page here.

In recent years there has been a number of projects that have been exploring the possibility of harvesting high-altitude wind energy. The wind speeds are significantly faster as you move higher into the air and this has prompted the efforts to build flying or floating options that enable us to take advantage of these winds. More details about some of the different options being developed can be found on the High Altitude Wind Energy Development page.

The Case For Wind Power

It’s clean. Once the wind turbines have been manufactured and put in place (which does produce carbon emissions) the operation of the turbines are non-polluting, do not add to global warming and produces no pollution.

The cost is not significantly higher than existing electricity costs sourced from fossil fuels. With anticipated government incentives, the difference in cost will be reduced even more.

Technology is advanced and it has been proven to be an efficient producer of electricity.

It makes a significant difference, e.g. Challicum wind farm in the west of Victoria generates enough energy to power more than 25,000 homes.

Surveys have indicated that wind power is a popular energy technology which suggests that the wider population will be willing to use it.

The Case Against Wind Power

As with just about every new technology you find you get detractors and naysayers. Here is a taste of some of the arguments thrown up against wind power.

Wind turbines ruin the landscape. Of course, this argument loses a bit of momentum when you compare the landscape containing a wind turbine with the ascetics that an open cut cola mine creates.

Wind turbines kill birds.

Wind farms are noisy.

Wind power is unreliable. There will be times when there won’t be consistently strong enough winds to produce the required energy.

Wind farms are at their most cost efficient when wind turbines are located near to the end users.
(Incidentally all of these arguments against wind power are easily and comprehensively revealed as fallacies by Mark Diesendorf in his outstanding book Freenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy.)

Cost

Currently wind energy costs around twice as much as energy from coal generation, but the cost of wind power is steadily falling. The cost of fossil fuel-based energy does not factor in the environmental costs and when these are factored in in the future, the gap between wind and fossil fuel-based energy will close even more.

Wind Power by the Numbers
By the end of 2007, wind powered generators had a capacity of 94.1 gigawatts which represents only 1% of world-wide electricity use.

The Global Wind Energy Council confirmed that over 20,00 megawatts of new wind power was installed worldwide and will generate enough annual electricity to offset 23 average-sized coal-fired power plants. This is an increase of 31% compared to 2006. (Source Global Wind Energy Council)

China added 3,449 MW of wind energy capacity in 2007, an increase of 156% and has moved to the 5th highest installed energy capacity in the world.

Wind power generation has increased between 2000-2007 more than fivefold.

The United States had a reported wind capacity of just over 55,500 MW towards the end of 2012, closely followed by China with just over 55,200MW and then Germany with around 30,500. In terms of growth of wind capacity, China is moving particularly quickly in increasing its wind capacity with a growth rate of 23% through the year in 2012 compared to 18% growth in the USA.

Denmark produces 20% of its country’s electricity from wind sources and has done since 2003.