Wind energy's frequently asked questions (FAQ)

The basics

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fold faq

How is electricity measured?

The ability to generate electricity is measured in watts. Watts are very small units, so the terms kilowatt (kW = 1,000 watts), megawatt (MW = 1 million watts), and gigawatt (GW = 1 billion watts) are most commonly used to describe the capacity of generating units like wind turbines or other power plants.

Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour means one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50 watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?

The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed through the rotor.

An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity.
An average offshore wind turbine of 3.6 MW can power more than 3,312 average EU households.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity is created from wind in Europe?

The total installed wind power capacity in Europe at the end of 2012 covers 7% of the EU-27’s electricity demand.

By 2020, EWEA estimates that 230 GW (including 40 GW offshore) of wind power capacity will be installed in the EU, meeting 15-17% of the EU’s electricity demand (4.2% from offshore). By 2050, EWEA estimates that wind power will meet 50% of the EU’s electricity demand.

Wind provides 26% of electricity in Denmark, while Portugal and Spain get around16% of electricity from wind power respectively, followed by Ireland (12%) and Germany (11%).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How does a wind turbine produce electricity?

The wind passes over the blades creating lift (like an aircraft wing) which causes the rotor to turn. The blades turn a low-speed shaft inside the nacelle: gears connect the low speed shaft of the rotor with a high speed shaft that drives a generator. Here, the slow rotation speed of the blades is increased to the high speed of generator revolution. Some wind turbines do not contain a gearbox and instead use a direct drive mechanism to produce power from the generator.

The rapidly spinning shaft drives the generator to produce electric energy. Electricity from the generator goes to a transformer which converts it to the right voltage for the electricity grid. The electricity is then transmitted via the electricity network.

See how a wind turbine works with EWEA’s interactive infographic!

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What happens when the wind stops blowing?

The power grid operator constantly matches the electricity generation available to electricity demand. No power plant is 100% reliable, and the electricity grid is designed to cope with power plants shutting down unexpectedly, and times when the wind is not blowing. Wind is variable, but predictable. Wind farm sites are chosen after careful analysis of wind patterns. This enables a forecast of output to be made - information which can be made available to the network operators who will distribute the electricity.

In the future, once a truly European electricity grid has been constructed, wind-powered electricity will be able to be traded between EU countries to balance out supply and demand even more easily. Other renewables such as solar will also form part of this electricity exchange.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Why do we need a European power grid?

Much of today’s electricity grid was built 40-60 years ago. It was built around large fossil-fuel burning power stations usually sited near large urban areas. European grids are largely national grids.

In order to harness the power of renewable energy, including wind, the grid has to be extended to where the resource is located: i.e. where the wind blows most frequently, and where the sun shines the brightest. For wind, this includes out to sea, and in some remote land areas. The grid needs to be expanded so that it can deliver power from where the wind is blowing to where it is needed.

The grid also needs to be better interconnected to improve security of supply and prevent black outs – regardless of the source of energy – and in order to improve competition in the electricity market, which would bring down prices. A European grid might also use more modern cables that lose less electricity in transit.

The investment need for new and refurbished grid infrastructure is about €140 bn up to 2020, according to the European Commission. The opportunity is there to make a more modern system that meets tomorrow’s energy, social, environmental and economic needs.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What is a Transmission System Operator?

In the electricity sector, a transmission system operator (TSO) is a company that transmits electrical power from generation plants to regional or local electricity Distribution System Operators (DSO). It is responsible for operating, maintaining and developing the transmission system for its own control area and its interconnectors.

At a European level, ENTSO-E (the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) is an association of European TSOs. It aims to increase integration between electricity markets in the EU, establish network codes which will define rules for cross-border grid management and develop a Pan-European ten-year plan for grid development.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Can wind deliver enough electricity?

EWEA and others believe Europe could achieve an electricity which is 100% from  renewable sources, with wind energy providing 50% of this.

The European Commission believes wind energy will supply between 32% and 49% of the EU’s electricity by 2050. The key will be a Europe-wide power grid which will transport wind energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed – the wind is always blowing somewhere.

Today, in Denmark, over 26% of electricity demand is already supplied by the wind, and is managed successfully by the grid operator. The Danish government aims to get 50% of its electricity from wind by 2025. In Spain 16% of electricity demand is met by wind, and at times wind provides over half the electricity needed.

Category: FAQ topic 3

Electricity

Show all / Hide all

fold faq

How is electricity measured?

The ability to generate electricity is measured in watts. Watts are very small units, so the terms kilowatt (kW = 1,000 watts), megawatt (MW = 1 million watts), and gigawatt (GW = 1 billion watts) are most commonly used to describe the capacity of generating units like wind turbines or other power plants.

Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour means one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50 watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?

The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed through the rotor.

An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity.
An average offshore wind turbine of 3.6 MW can power more than 3,312 average EU households.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity is created from wind in Europe?

The total installed wind power capacity in Europe at the end of 2012 covers 7% of the EU-27’s electricity demand.

By 2020, EWEA estimates that 230 GW (including 40 GW offshore) of wind power capacity will be installed in the EU, meeting 15-17% of the EU’s electricity demand (4.2% from offshore). By 2050, EWEA estimates that wind power will meet 50% of the EU’s electricity demand.

Wind provides 26% of electricity in Denmark, while Portugal and Spain get around16% of electricity from wind power respectively, followed by Ireland (12%) and Germany (11%).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How does a wind turbine produce electricity?

The wind passes over the blades creating lift (like an aircraft wing) which causes the rotor to turn. The blades turn a low-speed shaft inside the nacelle: gears connect the low speed shaft of the rotor with a high speed shaft that drives a generator. Here, the slow rotation speed of the blades is increased to the high speed of generator revolution. Some wind turbines do not contain a gearbox and instead use a direct drive mechanism to produce power from the generator.

The rapidly spinning shaft drives the generator to produce electric energy. Electricity from the generator goes to a transformer which converts it to the right voltage for the electricity grid. The electricity is then transmitted via the electricity network.

See how a wind turbine works with EWEA’s interactive infographic!

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What happens when the wind stops blowing?

The power grid operator constantly matches the electricity generation available to electricity demand. No power plant is 100% reliable, and the electricity grid is designed to cope with power plants shutting down unexpectedly, and times when the wind is not blowing. Wind is variable, but predictable. Wind farm sites are chosen after careful analysis of wind patterns. This enables a forecast of output to be made - information which can be made available to the network operators who will distribute the electricity.

In the future, once a truly European electricity grid has been constructed, wind-powered electricity will be able to be traded between EU countries to balance out supply and demand even more easily. Other renewables such as solar will also form part of this electricity exchange.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Why do we need a European power grid?

Much of today’s electricity grid was built 40-60 years ago. It was built around large fossil-fuel burning power stations usually sited near large urban areas. European grids are largely national grids.

In order to harness the power of renewable energy, including wind, the grid has to be extended to where the resource is located: i.e. where the wind blows most frequently, and where the sun shines the brightest. For wind, this includes out to sea, and in some remote land areas. The grid needs to be expanded so that it can deliver power from where the wind is blowing to where it is needed.

The grid also needs to be better interconnected to improve security of supply and prevent black outs – regardless of the source of energy – and in order to improve competition in the electricity market, which would bring down prices. A European grid might also use more modern cables that lose less electricity in transit.

The investment need for new and refurbished grid infrastructure is about €140 bn up to 2020, according to the European Commission. The opportunity is there to make a more modern system that meets tomorrow’s energy, social, environmental and economic needs.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What is a Transmission System Operator?

In the electricity sector, a transmission system operator (TSO) is a company that transmits electrical power from generation plants to regional or local electricity Distribution System Operators (DSO). It is responsible for operating, maintaining and developing the transmission system for its own control area and its interconnectors.

At a European level, ENTSO-E (the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) is an association of European TSOs. It aims to increase integration between electricity markets in the EU, establish network codes which will define rules for cross-border grid management and develop a Pan-European ten-year plan for grid development.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Can wind deliver enough electricity?

EWEA and others believe Europe could achieve an electricity which is 100% from  renewable sources, with wind energy providing 50% of this.

The European Commission believes wind energy will supply between 32% and 49% of the EU’s electricity by 2050. The key will be a Europe-wide power grid which will transport wind energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed – the wind is always blowing somewhere.

Today, in Denmark, over 26% of electricity demand is already supplied by the wind, and is managed successfully by the grid operator. The Danish government aims to get 50% of its electricity from wind by 2025. In Spain 16% of electricity demand is met by wind, and at times wind provides over half the electricity needed.

Category: FAQ topic 3

Environment

Show all / Hide all

fold faq

How is electricity measured?

The ability to generate electricity is measured in watts. Watts are very small units, so the terms kilowatt (kW = 1,000 watts), megawatt (MW = 1 million watts), and gigawatt (GW = 1 billion watts) are most commonly used to describe the capacity of generating units like wind turbines or other power plants.

Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour means one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50 watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?

The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed through the rotor.

An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity.
An average offshore wind turbine of 3.6 MW can power more than 3,312 average EU households.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity is created from wind in Europe?

The total installed wind power capacity in Europe at the end of 2012 covers 7% of the EU-27’s electricity demand.

By 2020, EWEA estimates that 230 GW (including 40 GW offshore) of wind power capacity will be installed in the EU, meeting 15-17% of the EU’s electricity demand (4.2% from offshore). By 2050, EWEA estimates that wind power will meet 50% of the EU’s electricity demand.

Wind provides 26% of electricity in Denmark, while Portugal and Spain get around16% of electricity from wind power respectively, followed by Ireland (12%) and Germany (11%).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How does a wind turbine produce electricity?

The wind passes over the blades creating lift (like an aircraft wing) which causes the rotor to turn. The blades turn a low-speed shaft inside the nacelle: gears connect the low speed shaft of the rotor with a high speed shaft that drives a generator. Here, the slow rotation speed of the blades is increased to the high speed of generator revolution. Some wind turbines do not contain a gearbox and instead use a direct drive mechanism to produce power from the generator.

The rapidly spinning shaft drives the generator to produce electric energy. Electricity from the generator goes to a transformer which converts it to the right voltage for the electricity grid. The electricity is then transmitted via the electricity network.

See how a wind turbine works with EWEA’s interactive infographic!

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What happens when the wind stops blowing?

The power grid operator constantly matches the electricity generation available to electricity demand. No power plant is 100% reliable, and the electricity grid is designed to cope with power plants shutting down unexpectedly, and times when the wind is not blowing. Wind is variable, but predictable. Wind farm sites are chosen after careful analysis of wind patterns. This enables a forecast of output to be made - information which can be made available to the network operators who will distribute the electricity.

In the future, once a truly European electricity grid has been constructed, wind-powered electricity will be able to be traded between EU countries to balance out supply and demand even more easily. Other renewables such as solar will also form part of this electricity exchange.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Why do we need a European power grid?

Much of today’s electricity grid was built 40-60 years ago. It was built around large fossil-fuel burning power stations usually sited near large urban areas. European grids are largely national grids.

In order to harness the power of renewable energy, including wind, the grid has to be extended to where the resource is located: i.e. where the wind blows most frequently, and where the sun shines the brightest. For wind, this includes out to sea, and in some remote land areas. The grid needs to be expanded so that it can deliver power from where the wind is blowing to where it is needed.

The grid also needs to be better interconnected to improve security of supply and prevent black outs – regardless of the source of energy – and in order to improve competition in the electricity market, which would bring down prices. A European grid might also use more modern cables that lose less electricity in transit.

The investment need for new and refurbished grid infrastructure is about €140 bn up to 2020, according to the European Commission. The opportunity is there to make a more modern system that meets tomorrow’s energy, social, environmental and economic needs.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What is a Transmission System Operator?

In the electricity sector, a transmission system operator (TSO) is a company that transmits electrical power from generation plants to regional or local electricity Distribution System Operators (DSO). It is responsible for operating, maintaining and developing the transmission system for its own control area and its interconnectors.

At a European level, ENTSO-E (the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) is an association of European TSOs. It aims to increase integration between electricity markets in the EU, establish network codes which will define rules for cross-border grid management and develop a Pan-European ten-year plan for grid development.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Can wind deliver enough electricity?

EWEA and others believe Europe could achieve an electricity which is 100% from  renewable sources, with wind energy providing 50% of this.

The European Commission believes wind energy will supply between 32% and 49% of the EU’s electricity by 2050. The key will be a Europe-wide power grid which will transport wind energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed – the wind is always blowing somewhere.

Today, in Denmark, over 26% of electricity demand is already supplied by the wind, and is managed successfully by the grid operator. The Danish government aims to get 50% of its electricity from wind by 2025. In Spain 16% of electricity demand is met by wind, and at times wind provides over half the electricity needed.

Category: FAQ topic 3

Economy

Show all / Hide all

fold faq

How is electricity measured?

The ability to generate electricity is measured in watts. Watts are very small units, so the terms kilowatt (kW = 1,000 watts), megawatt (MW = 1 million watts), and gigawatt (GW = 1 billion watts) are most commonly used to describe the capacity of generating units like wind turbines or other power plants.

Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour means one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50 watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?

The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed through the rotor.

An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity.
An average offshore wind turbine of 3.6 MW can power more than 3,312 average EU households.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How much electricity is created from wind in Europe?

The total installed wind power capacity in Europe at the end of 2012 covers 7% of the EU-27’s electricity demand.

By 2020, EWEA estimates that 230 GW (including 40 GW offshore) of wind power capacity will be installed in the EU, meeting 15-17% of the EU’s electricity demand (4.2% from offshore). By 2050, EWEA estimates that wind power will meet 50% of the EU’s electricity demand.

Wind provides 26% of electricity in Denmark, while Portugal and Spain get around16% of electricity from wind power respectively, followed by Ireland (12%) and Germany (11%).

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

How does a wind turbine produce electricity?

The wind passes over the blades creating lift (like an aircraft wing) which causes the rotor to turn. The blades turn a low-speed shaft inside the nacelle: gears connect the low speed shaft of the rotor with a high speed shaft that drives a generator. Here, the slow rotation speed of the blades is increased to the high speed of generator revolution. Some wind turbines do not contain a gearbox and instead use a direct drive mechanism to produce power from the generator.

The rapidly spinning shaft drives the generator to produce electric energy. Electricity from the generator goes to a transformer which converts it to the right voltage for the electricity grid. The electricity is then transmitted via the electricity network.

See how a wind turbine works with EWEA’s interactive infographic!

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What happens when the wind stops blowing?

The power grid operator constantly matches the electricity generation available to electricity demand. No power plant is 100% reliable, and the electricity grid is designed to cope with power plants shutting down unexpectedly, and times when the wind is not blowing. Wind is variable, but predictable. Wind farm sites are chosen after careful analysis of wind patterns. This enables a forecast of output to be made - information which can be made available to the network operators who will distribute the electricity.

In the future, once a truly European electricity grid has been constructed, wind-powered electricity will be able to be traded between EU countries to balance out supply and demand even more easily. Other renewables such as solar will also form part of this electricity exchange.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Why do we need a European power grid?

Much of today’s electricity grid was built 40-60 years ago. It was built around large fossil-fuel burning power stations usually sited near large urban areas. European grids are largely national grids.

In order to harness the power of renewable energy, including wind, the grid has to be extended to where the resource is located: i.e. where the wind blows most frequently, and where the sun shines the brightest. For wind, this includes out to sea, and in some remote land areas. The grid needs to be expanded so that it can deliver power from where the wind is blowing to where it is needed.

The grid also needs to be better interconnected to improve security of supply and prevent black outs – regardless of the source of energy – and in order to improve competition in the electricity market, which would bring down prices. A European grid might also use more modern cables that lose less electricity in transit.

The investment need for new and refurbished grid infrastructure is about €140 bn up to 2020, according to the European Commission. The opportunity is there to make a more modern system that meets tomorrow’s energy, social, environmental and economic needs.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

What is a Transmission System Operator?

In the electricity sector, a transmission system operator (TSO) is a company that transmits electrical power from generation plants to regional or local electricity Distribution System Operators (DSO). It is responsible for operating, maintaining and developing the transmission system for its own control area and its interconnectors.

At a European level, ENTSO-E (the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) is an association of European TSOs. It aims to increase integration between electricity markets in the EU, establish network codes which will define rules for cross-border grid management and develop a Pan-European ten-year plan for grid development.

Category: FAQ topic 3
fold faq

Can wind deliver enough electricity?

EWEA and others believe Europe could achieve an electricity which is 100% from  renewable sources, with wind energy providing 50% of this.

The European Commission believes wind energy will supply between 32% and 49% of the EU’s electricity by 2050. The key will be a Europe-wide power grid which will transport wind energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed – the wind is always blowing somewhere.

Today, in Denmark, over 26% of electricity demand is already supplied by the wind, and is managed successfully by the grid operator. The Danish government aims to get 50% of its electricity from wind by 2025. In Spain 16% of electricity demand is met by wind, and at times wind provides over half the electricity needed.

Category: FAQ topic 3