Investing in wind energy makes absolute economic sense.
Europe’s ageing power plants need replacing. It makes economic sense to replace a growing proportion of those conventional power plants with wind energy.
This is because wind energy does the following:
- Creates jobs and economic growth in Europe. 238,000 people worked in EU wind energy in 2010.
- Reduces the cost of importing fossil fuels. Wind energy avoided €5.71 billion of fuel costs in 2010.
- Reduces the risks of Europe being dependent on other countries for its energy.
- Costs no more – and soon less – than conventional power sources. Today, production cost of a wind farm on land is broadly cost competitive with building a new coal or gas power station and the electricity costs are half of those from a new nuclear power plant. And that is in a situation in which some of the environmental and health costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels are not covered by power producers and therefore not included in the price of energy.
- Reduces the risk associated with rising fossil fuel prices.
Erich Enikl works in the Moschkogel alpine wind farm in Styria, Austria in turbine maintenance. Today, as part of the Global Wind Day “wind energy stories” series, he tells us about his passion for wind energy.
When did you first become passionate about wind energy?
My first encounter with a – very small – wind turbine was in 1988, but it wasn’t until 2005/6 that, with the installation of the wind farm on the Moschkogel mountain, wind energy took off for me. I did not miss a single step of the installation – from road building, to the production of the foundations, to the cabling. The fascination for me was how much one could achieve with these big turbines with sophisticated technology. The wind park is situated at an altitude of 1,500 metres in the mountains and is accessible only by very steep roads. The five Enercon turbines were installed in May and June 2006. After an incredibly long and hard winter, I needed four days to move the metre high snow from the roads. The technician then managed in a relatively short time to adjust the turbines to these extreme conditions.
How much sense does a wind park make in the mountains?
We are producing energy mainly in the winter months, when consumption is high. Heating, illuminating flats and towns, the operation of lifts for snow machines – all of this needs electricity. These few turbines can provide the entire yearly energy needs of the local system operator.
Was the natural environment affected by the wind farm?
The week on the EWEA blog starts with a “wind energy story”, in association with Global Wind Day, as photographer and wind power enthusiast Robert van Waarden travels to Ireland to meet Pat Blount, initiator of a wind energy project in County Louth.
Like many others, Pat Blount’s life changed on a bar stool. Striking up a conversation with the individual beside him, Pat was soon deep in discussion with a representative from wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. Pat proceeded to volley his new companion with question after question about the wind industry and when he left the bar, he set off on a path that would change himself and at least one community along the way.
A man of the outdoors and the mountains, Pat always cared about energy conservation and the natural world. His discussion on that bar stool was the push he needed to take the plunge. He dived headfirst into the wind industry and identified possible wind sites across Ireland. One of these was in Collon, County Louth. After checking the grid access to the Collon wind site, he found the landowners and invited them to join his business venture. Pat agreed to take the financial risk, if they provided the land and they would be equal owners of the business.
Johanna Lehner stands on top of a wind turbine in Austria
Part two of a new series of “wind energy stories” from around the world, in association with Global Wind Day. Today, Gerhard Scholz from the Austrian Wind Energy Association, speaks to Johanna Lehner, a service technician at Windkraft Simonsfeld in Austria.
What exactly does a wind turbine service technician do?
Essentially, we go on a wind turbine patrol. The main task is the regular visual inspection of the condition of all our sites – from the tower to the nacelle. The aim is to guarantee the highest possible availability of all our wind turbines.
What maintenance activities do you do?
We oil components, exchange filters if necessary, measure the performance of the turbine, test and replace electrical components if necessary and test the hydraulic system.
How did you end up in wind energy and what training did you do?
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As part of a new series in association with Global Wind Day, the EWEA blog is publishing “wind energy stories” from around the world. Today, Robert van Waarden, photographer and wind energy enthusiast travels to Holland to meet a farmer active in community wind power.
“If I only grew potatoes and onions, then I wouldn’t talk with so many people,” says Jaap van der Beek. “You talk so often to these people because we all have the same interest. That interest is to build a big wind park.”
Jaap van der Beek has been harvesting the wind for over 16 years and his 850kw turbine powers hundreds of homes. He lives in North Holland; an area that centuries ago was dominated by wooden windmills. A pilot, farmer and a wind enthusiast, Jaap is a busy man.