Why do some of the turbines in a wind farm sometimes stand still?

» By | Published 04 Nov 2010 |

Winter TurbineClusters of wind turbines can frequently be spotted from the window of a train or a car, but occasionally one or two of them are not turning. What does this mean?

It might look as though the turbines have just stopped working, and have been left standing still next to their functioning fellow machines.

However, the truth is that wind turbines are nearly always stopped for a good reason. This can be in order to carry out maintenance and repairs, or often because there is too little or too much wind.

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Turbine blade goes up in the EU quarter

» By | Published 01 Jun 2010 |

Blade arrives at Schuman

Sparkling white, tall and sleek, right in the middle of the EU-quarter stands a 29.5 metre wind turbine blade. The slender wing casts a shadow on the European Council Justis Liptus building and is visible to anyone going into the European Commission and Council main buildings on their way to work this morning.

It is a symbol of Europe’s leading renewable energy – wind power – a clean, CO2-free fuel that is driving the fight against climate change, securing economic benefits and increasing the security of our energy supplies. Seeing this aerodynamic feat of engineering up close is a rare and impressive experience.

Weighing in at 4,100kg, this type of blade is used in 1-1.3MW turbines which can produce enough electricity to meet the annual average electricity consumption of over 760 households. Despite its size – it’s nearly as tall as the 16-floor Commission headquarters – it is relatively small compared to the 60m blades used to power 6-7MW turbines today.

The blade arrived on trucks in Brussels last night after a long haul from the Netherlands already adorned with EWEA and sponsors ENEL Green Power labels. It took several hours and a team of engineers to put up the foundation, fit the main blade exactly into it and finally the pointed tip which needed a massive crane to put it in place.

“We are very excited this project worked out, the setup alone was spectacular and the finished installation is all the more impressive and shows that wind energy is not only providing environmental and economic benefits but can also be an aesthetic object, a symbol for a renewable energy future,” said Elke Zander, EWEA’s campaigns officer.

The blade has been put up to mark Global Wind Day on 15 June, but also for the beginning of the EU’s Green Week (1-4 June) and the Fête de l’environnement (6 June). Information panels will (from this afternoon) surround the blade highlighting the benefits of wind power.

Blade tip is lowered in place

“It is also a reminder that Europe need not forever be dependent on imported, polluting and expensive fossil fuels. There is, in fact, enough wind blowing across the continent to power it seven times over,” Zander said.

Visit the Global Wind Day website for more information on what’s going on near you, and check out our campaign website to see how you can show your support for wind energy by adopting your own turbine. And for more photos of the blade, check our facebook page!

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World’s first 6 MW turbine park

» By | Published 25 May 2010 |

Eleven turbine towers, six of which are already connected to the electricity grid providing power to thousands of homes, stand tall and proud on the Levant de Mons plateau near Estinnes, Belgium. It’s a grey, cold day when we visit and the wind’s obvious strength is turning the blades at a consistent rate of knots.

What’s different about these turbines is the sheer amount of power they can produce – at 6 MW each they are the largest ever to be installed on land. Once all these impressive machines are connected to the grid, they will provide power for 50,000 homes – more than enough to keep the lights on in nearby town Mons.

Built by Enercon, these E-126 turbines sit on a 27 metre-large concrete foundation and are connected to the electricity grid via 11km of underground cables. Installing them requires one of the world’s largest cranes and hefty lorries capable of transporting the turbine and its components from the factory in Germany to the farm in Belgium.

We pick our way through the pools of mud surrounding the turbines and go inside a turbine tower where the noise of electricity-generation is intense. The tower is 131 metres tall and inside is a panel indicating just how much electricity is being produced at the time, wind speed and direction, and whether or not the turbine is connected to the grid. WindVision, the company developing the project, estimates that annually the Estinnes turbines will produce 187,000,000 kWh of electricity.

Back outside and close-up to the tower, today, the noise is no louder than the sound of the wind or traffic passing on the nearby main road. In addition, turbines are now slowed down at night to reduce sound from the wind turbines reaching residents.

Local children have already adorned the grey towers with wind-friendly messages such as “les éoliennes, c’est cool,” and “je suis folle des éoliennes.”

Once the Estinnes park has been completed, WindVision hopes 6 MW turbines will be installed across Europe.

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To what extent should we encourage wind in the overall energy mix?

» By | Published 05 May 2010 |

This month’s online Comment Visions forum centres exclusively on wind power, asking: to what extent should we encourage the growth of wind energy in our future energy mix? And the response is positive: from around the world, respondents are singing the benefits of wind power.

Kenneth Reed, founder of Natural Alternative Fuels inc, says that the wind, when harnessed is, “a natural tool that provides man with a clean solution to the problem of declining natural resources, competition (war) over existing resources, addiction to foreign oil, pollution of air and water, cancer and asthma causing emissions and global warming.”

Reed’s comments are echoed by David Hurwitt, Vice President of Optiwind, who says that wind is an, “endless resource that arrives for free and leaves no waste in its wake.”

EWEA’s COO Bruce Douglas points out that wind power is already part of the answer to the multiple climate, energy and employment crises in Europe. Wind is, “already expanding significantly and this growth must be encouraged until we reach 100% renewables in Europe. By seizing this opportunity now Europe will set an example for the rest of the world,” he says.

Backing Douglas, Michail Georgiev, manager at Energoconsult ltd, notes that, “wind is the only renewable source that has the technical and economical potential to reach between 40 and 50% from total energy production in the medium term.”

The President of the African Wind Energy Association, Hermann Oelsner, outlines wind power’s potential development advantages, “wind energy is particularly advantageous for the African continent because the philosophy behind the technology is in cohesion with the overall social and economic development strategies of most African nations.”

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