Wind turbines are a relatively simple system of generating electricity, and haven’t changed much over the centuries.
As the wind rotates the blades – which face into the wind and are tilted to generate the greatest rotation – the blades rotate a shaft and a generator, which turn the energy into electricity.
Modern wind turbines will also have sensors which detect the direction and power of the wind, so they can be rotated toward the wind or shut down if the wind is too low, or too powerful.
Crucially, electrical energy is lost if it is transported great distances, so the closer the wind farms are to the grid, the more efficient they become.
The UK is a very windy country, with an estimated 40% of the wind that hits Europe passing over us first. This is valuable in terms of energy production because wind is a renewable resource, with wind farms having a virtually non-existent carbon footprint (once constructed).
In 2016, the Government announced ambitious new carbon targets: to reduce carbon emissions by 57% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, putting a lot of emphasis on wind farms and wind energy.
A lot of progress has been made since then. Wind power contributed 18% of the UK's electricity generation in 2018, compared to just 1.5% ten years earlier.
In fact, as of 2023, the UK is the world leader of offshore wind power, providing more than a third of Europe's offshore wind resource. In the first three months of 2023, a new UK record for energy generated by wind was set, with more electricity generated by wind than by gas-fired power stations for the first time ever.
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