Wind power is a renewable energy source. It uses the power of the wind to produce green electricity. Wind power, or wind turbines, are usually built of turbines with three blades. These are connected directly to a generator that produces electricity. The energy source is an increasingly popular alternative for energy production. It is a clean option when compared to energy from fossil fuels. Therefore, wind power stations are commonly part of sustainability agendas that fight climate change.
Wind power globally
In 2021, about 10 % of global electricity came from wind and solar; this was an international record. The sector is growing very fast. For example, wind power grew about 14 % between 2018 and 2021. However, 2021 also showed a record rise in coal power and emissions. More so, the power sector saw a record of CO2 emissions, despite the investments in green energy. There was also a 5 % rise in electricity demand. These numbers are going in the wrong direction when considering climate change. Still, many governments aim to shift their grids to 100 % clean energy. While others, such as the EU, have set targets at 1/3 by 2030.
Wind power in China
The world leader in wind power capacity is China. The nation calls for about ¼ of the entire world’s wind capacity. Although, there is a difference between wind power capacity and how much of a nation’s total energy needs get generated from wind. In 2021, Denmark generated most of its electricity demand from wind, with 52%. The nation was followed by Uruguay, with 47%.
In China, 55% still comes from burning coal (fossil fuels). In other words, wind power investments do not mean that most of the nation’s energy is green. In 2021, for example, wind power accounted for 7.5%. Some figures show that China dominates the wind market, as the nation is responsible for about 40% of wind power constructions. The country makes huge investments in wind worldwide. For instance, the Chinese government has invested in Swedish wind energy. According to “Swedish Radio”, China accounts for 1/5 of the investments made in Swedish wind power.
Wind power across the world
The energy source is also expanding in other parts of the world. After China, the US and Germany are significant investors in the energy source. Yet, the nations have very high energy needs, meaning wind power only covers a small part of the need. Critiques highlight that it is a problem when energy companies try to meet today’s high demand rather than working with more efficient use of energy and lowering the need.
For private use
Today, there is also an increase in installing wind turbines for private use, for example, at summer cottages that are not connected to a public electricity grid. So-called wind maps indicate which locations are suitable for wind power.
There is not always wind, which is one of the biggest challenges with wind turbines. It means there is only electricity production when the wind blows. This issue can be countered by placing wind turbines across an entire nation rather than in one central spot. It is also possible to combine the source with other renewable sources, such as hydropower and solar power. More so, technology for storing energy is under development. Another solution is to adapt to the wind by using electricity when it is windy – for example, charging the batteries of electric cars when there is wind.
Another concern regarding wind power is wildlife, as the constrictions disturb animals. Particularly birds get hurt by the wind turbines. Other animals are disturbed by the sounds. Therefore, it is essential to consider the location of power plants. For example, to avoid places where migratory birds usually pass. Other conflicts with wildlife occur during construction at sea, in areas significant for marine life and seabirds. One solution is to place wind turbines where humans live rather than out in the wild. However, this creates problems for the public as wind turbines are large and noisy.