Good News

How do wind turbines work?

Posted in: Good Energy news

Posted on: 19.01.2016

It’s been a record-breaking year for wind power in the UK.

11% of the UK’s electricity came from wind turbines in 2015, and in the last 3 months of the year it was 13%.

It’s a pretty astounding result for a technology that’s older – and simpler – than you might think!

Wind turbines are one of the longest standing renewable energy technologies, and can be installed in a range of sizes from a few kW (enough to boil a kettle) to many MW (big enough to power thousands of homes).

The technology is simple: wind rotates the turbine blades, which drives a generator to produce electricity.

Wind turbine facts

  • Older turbines are based on gears but some newer setups, like our turbines at Delabole, are gearless.
  • Wind speed’s effect on generation is calculated on a formula which means that when wind speed doubles, generation increases eightfold!
  • According to figures from the British Wind Energy Association, a modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time.

The UK’s Wind

The UK has the best wind resource in Europe. Though our winds aren’t always strong, they are diverse and frequent – which means we can create a regular source of electricity by maximising the ways and places in which we capture and use wind energy.

  • The UK is windiest during the winter, and on average it’s windier during the day than the night.
  • Wind turbines are built where they’ll face prevailing winds which have an average speed of over six metres per second.
  • Most UK winds come from a south westerly direction, which is why some of our largest turbines are on the west coast of Scotland and in Cornwall.

We reckon more than half of our 100% renewable electricity will come from the power of UK wind this year – but it’s only part of our fuel mix.

We also rely on sourcing electricity from solar panels, hydro turbines and biomass – they all play an important part in creating an energy balance.

Interested in how a solar panel works? Find out on our blog! You can also switch to 100% renewable electricity today to support a greener future for the UK.

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