Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of energy in the world, rivaled only by solar energy. Using massive turbines designed specifically for ultra-efficiency, wind farms are able to turn a passing breeze into power for our homes, businesses and vehicles.
Don‘t believe it? Here are some stunning wind energy facts from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC):
- There were 225,000 wind turbines spinning around the world at the end of 2012.
- One 6 MW offshore wind turbine can power 5,500 average-sized EU homes.
- 30 percent of Denmark’s electricity consumption was covered by wind energy in 2012. The Danish government aims to get 50 percent of its electricity from wind by 2020 and 100 percent from renewable energy by 2050.
- By 2020, the wind power sector is expected to employ 520,000 people in the EU. By 2030, the figure will be 794,079, with 62 percent of jobs in the offshore wind sector.
- Today, American wind farms generate enough electricity to power more than 11 million homes, and provide manufacturing, construction and operation jobs for at least 75,000 Americans.
As these statistics show, wind is more than just fresh air; It’s a revolution that’s helping us power our lives without the life-threatening pollution of fossil fuels. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up seven of the most impressive wind farms and wind turbine designs from around the world. This technology is our future. Enjoy!
1. Alta Wind Energy Center - Kern County, California
Alta Wind is the largest wind facility in the United States. The wind farm is the focus of ongoing expansion and development, but by the end of 2013, the center is expected to have a generation capacity of 1,548 megawatts, producing enough electricity to power 450,000 homes.
2. Gansu Wind Farm – China
Also called the Jiuquan Wind Power Base, this is a group of large wind farms under construction in western Gansu province in China. It has a capacity of over 5,000 MW of power, with a goal of 20,000 MW by 2020. When fully completed the entire project may become the world’s biggest collective wind farm.
3. The London Array – UK
Opened in early 2013, the London Array is (for now) the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Located in the Thames estuary, the array comes with a 630 MW capacity, enough to power 470,000 homes. The UK currently has more than 3.6 GW of offshore wind power capacity, but is expected to have around 18 GW by the end of the decade.
4. Jaisalmer Wind Park – India
This is India’s largest operational wind project, developed by Suzlon Energy and switched on in August 2001. In 2005, Jaisalmer crossed 1000 MW of installed capacity, making it one of the largest wind farms in the world.
Massive power-generating wind farms are the way of the future and will help us transition away from fossil fuels, but sometimes equally good things come in much smaller packages. Check out the innovative wind turbines designed below to learn more.
5. The Quiet Revolution
Wind farms are a great way to generate large amounts of electricity without fossil fuels, but what if no one wants to build one in your area? Residential wind turbines allow people to generate their own wind energy, and get off the grid faster. The QR5 wind turbine was designed in response to increasing demand for wind turbines that work well in environments close to people and buildings. Its twisted blades are oriented around a vertical axis, rather than horizontal. “At five metres high and three metres in diameter, it is compact and easy to integrate, and with just one moving part, maintenance can be limited to an annual inspection,” write the designers.
At only 30 feet tall and four feet wide Windspire wind turbines are yet another example of vertical axis wind turbines that are appropriate for urban, suburban and rural environments. Because there are no massive spinning blades, they’re also much more wildlife-friendly.
7. Dragonfly Invisible Turbine
Designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, this compact wind turbine was inspired by the physics of the dragonfly. Using an unusual two-bladed design, Piano’s mini-turbine can harvest energy from winds that blow as slow as four miles an hour, making it perfect for urban and suburban environments.