15 fast facts about wind power
Wind power is one of the cheapest and cleanest ways to generate electricity. Here in Western Australia, we’re in an ideal location to harness the power of the wind.
Learn more with some fast facts about wind power, wind farms and wind turbines in WA and beyond.
1. Wind turbines may look simple but they are actually very complex
In fact, a wind turbine has around 8,000 different parts.
2. A single wind turbine can stand almost four times as high as Optus Stadium
A modern wind turbine tower can stand up to 150m tall, with a generation capacity of 7.2 megawatts each.
3. A wind turbine blade can be around 90 metres long
Imagine something the length of nearly two Olympic-sized swimming pools – but spinning around in the sky to catch the wind.
4. Wind farms create jobs for local communities
The wind does all the work to get the turbines moving, but underneath all the action is a team of technicians, engineers, administrators, and a raft of renewable energy experts and support crew. As an example, the Mumbida Wind Farm was developed in a joint venture by Synergy and Infrastructure Capital Group and employed up to 100 people during the construction phase.
5. Wind power can support farmers
Farming land can be ideal for wind turbines to be positioned since farms are usually away from densely populated areas, national parks and other forested spaces. In some cases, farmers can be engaged to host wind turbines on their land in return for payment. This could help them to get the most value from land they might not be using, support their farming business and also the renewable energy industry at the same time.
6. Wind power is getting cheaper
We are harnessing the power of the wind in cheaper and more efficient ways as technology gets smarter. It’s estimated that the cost of producing wind power has dropped by an estimated 90 per cent since the 1980s.
7. WA’s first wind farm was also an Australian first
The Salmon Beach Wind Farm was opened near Esperance in 1987 as the first wind farm in Australia. It had six turbines and operated until 2002.
8. Wind farms don’t always sit on land
Offshore wind turbines are generating electricity across the world, particularly in northern Europe. It’s expected we’ll see even more offshore wind farms in the future as it gets more challenging to find the right spaces onshore.
9. Private wind turbines could become popular in the future
In the United States some homeowners, ranchers and small businesses can have small wind turbines installed on their property to generate wind power for the premises. While this is not common in Australia and not suitable for cities and highly populated areas, it’s the kind of renewable energy development we could see in the future.
10. There’s such a thing as too much wind
Wind turbines are designed to withstand the impact of the wind – but if the wind is blowing over a specified speed generally 130 km per-hour, the blades will stop turning as a safety precaution. Coral Bay Wind Farm, which opened in 2007, features what were the first wind turbines in WA built with the ability to be lowered to the ground during extreme weather conditions.
11. Wind energy doesn’t just come from wind turbines
Some international companies are exploring airborne wind generation, catching the wind mid-air using technology which works like a giant kite.
12. Solar is silent – but wind energy makes sound
Exactly what you’ll hear depends on how close you are, but wind turbines emit sound because of the parts in motion. According to the WA planning commission, a wind turbine would usually be placed at least 1500 metres away from a home. From this distance, a turbine is expected to comply with noise regulation which corresponds to sound levels somewhere between the whispering and quiet library sounds.
13. Wind turbines usually operate for around 20 years
After this time, the wind turbines on a wind farm could be decommissioned which typically is required to be agreed with the local community. This generally involves removing the turbine and returning the land to how it was before the installation.
14. Wind turbines can be repurposed
In Denmark, energy companies have turned decommissioned wind turbine blades into bike shelters and play equipment. Australia has many wind farms in use at the moment and some scientists and developers are exploring how to repurpose or recycle the elements once they’re no longer required.
15. Wind energy works around the clock
Unlike solar energy, which can only generate electricity when the sun is shining, wind power can be generated at any time of day or night. In fact, sometimes the best conditions for wind power generation are during the night.
Now that you have more information, you can become an even bigger fan of wind power by exploring the past, present and future of wind power in WA.