2016 was a great year for wind power

Posted in: Wind Energy

Posted on: 06.01.2017

2016 has been another record-breaking year for wind power in the UK, and for the first time ever, wind power generated more electricity than coal-fired power stations.

11.5% of the UK’s electricity came from wind turbines in 2016. Power from coal fell to just 9.2%, its lowest level since electricity started being generated in the nineteenth century.

It’s a pretty astounding result for a technology that’s older – and simpler – than you might think!

How do wind turbines work?

Wind turbines are one of the longest standing renewable energy technologies, and can be installed in a range of sizes from a few kW (enough to boil a kettle) to many MW (big enough to power thousands of homes).

The technology that allows wind turbines to generate electricity is simple: wind rotates the turbine blades, which drives a generator and this motion is what produces electricity. 

You can find out more about how wind turbines work here

This electricity is then sent through a transformer which converts it to the right voltage for the local network. And that's essentially how wind turbines work! 

Wind turbine facts

  • Older turbines are based on gears but some newer setups, like our turbines at Delabole, are gearless.
  • Wind speed's affect on generation is calculated on a formula which means that when wind speed doubles, generation increases eightfold!
  • According to figures from the British Wind Energy Association, a modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time.

The UK’s Wind

The UK has the best wind resource in Europe. Though our winds aren’t always strong, they are diverse and frequent – which means we can create a regular source of electricity by maximising the ways and places in which we capture and use wind energy.

  • The UK is windiest during the winter, and on average it’s windier during the day than the night.
  • Wind turbines are built where they’ll face prevailing winds, which have an average speed of over six metres per second.
  • Most UK winds come from a south westerly direction, which is why some of our largest turbines are on the west coast of Scotland and in Cornwall.

We reckon more than half of our 100% renewable electricity will come from the power of UK wind this year – but it’s only part of our fuel mix.

We also rely on sourcing electricity from solar panels, hydro turbines and biomass – they all play an important part in creating an energy balance.

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