Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form, such as electricity, using wind turbines. At the end of 2008, worldwide nameplate capacity of wind-powered generators was 121.2 gigawatts. Wind power produces about 1.5% of worldwide electricity use, and is growing rapidly, having doubled in the three years between 2005 and 2008. Several countries have achieved relatively high levels of wind power penetration, such as 19% of electricity production in Denmark, 11% in Spain and Portugal, and 7% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland in 2008. As of May 2009, eighty countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis.

Large scale wind farms are typically connected to the local electric power transmission network, with smaller turbines being used to provide electricity to isolated locations. Utility companies increasingly buy back surplus electricity produced by small domestic turbines. Wind energy as a power source is favoured by many environmentalists as an alternative to fossil fuels, as it is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and produces lower greenhouse gas emissions, although the construction of wind farms is not universally welcomed due to their visual impact and other effects on the environment.

Wind power, along with solar power, is non-dispatchable, meaning that for economic operation all of the available output must be taken when it is available, and other resources, such as hydropower, must be used to match supply with demand. The intermittency of wind seldom creates problems when using wind power to supply a low proportion of total demand. Where wind is to be used for a moderate fraction of demand, additional costs for compensation of intermittency are considered to be modest.

Random facts Edit

  • For the first time last year, wind power represented Europe's leading source of new electric capacity (with 8,877 megawatts added), well ahead of natural gas at 6,939 MW and coal at 763 MW. By the end of 2008, wind power accounted for 8 percent of EU power capacity, enough to generate 4.2 percent of the region's electricity in a normal wind year. Source: Worldwatch Institute, May 8, 2009
  • Asia accounted for almost one-third of global wind capacity, with China quickly surpassing its 2010 wind target of 10,000 MW and ending 2008 with 12,200 MW in place. Source: Worldwatch Institute, May 8, 2009
  • One megawatt wind turbine can save 21,600 tons of CO2 a year, 29,970,000,000,000/17 btu's of energy, 1,387,500/187 tons of Al, 360,000,000 gallons of H2O, gain almost 117,000 tons of O per year (equal to 900,000 trees)

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