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Wind and its place in electricity generation.

By JW Dowey - 21 Nov 2014 9:8:1 GMT
Wind and its place in electricity generation.

The ancient windmills give some clue as to when windpower can be utilised to form a major contribution to a nation’s electricity supply. Romania here provides a lovely example of old tech. promising much for new enterprise; Windmill image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Wind is neglected to some extent when discussions of the renewable potential of solar energy take place. Whether you paint the turbine blades purple or argue about the aesthetics of some view, the newsworthiness of wind power is undoubted. How popular this form of renewable energy is depends upon your location. Finance is unavailable over whole continents, while the climate determines just how much energy is available to your turbines. Cleantechnica give regular updates on all the renewables’ facts and figures, so it is about time we gave them a plug !

The reliable organisation and its contributors have total figures only for 2011 at the moment, but more up-to-date news is also available on their site. Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Germany and Ireland have the most wind power per head of population. The US and Canada, with Eastern European countries catching up, are well behind these leaders, while Pakistan and Vietnam tend to be among the lowest per capita windies. From 2 nations with only 30MW of wind power to the 60,000 and 75,000MW of the US and China, there is a real story of progress and regression, as Sweden, Romania, Germany, and the US play catch up and Pakistan and India begin a slow revival.

It’s partly geographical, of course. The western coasts of the northern continents are plastered with turbines, with their penchant for storms and winds well known to ancient sailors. Romania kicks the trend with quite a resource in wind, despite its central location. Dobruja is its wind capital, with ancient windmills joining in the bonanza from the north-easterlies off the Black Sea.

Tax credits play a large part in development, just as in solar power. The benefits to governments spending their tax money is the clean energy and the likely continuance of this form of energy production as compared to fossil fuels. Denmark has at least 30% of its electricity derived from wind, reaching the half-way point by 2020. Like Romania, it has one of the European wind sources that every country wishes for. Austria is another European now benefitting from its Alpine weather by investing more strongly in wind.

Canada and the US presently show as the only non-Eurasians exploiting wind. South America and Africa could well have some investment soon, but with the current lack of export capability, international cooperation is limited. Solar power certainly has the political lead in the nations here, but newer technology is always knocking on the door with renewable energy. We can expect even tidal power to become available widely when these engineers reveal their developed plans for your average tidal stream.

The 60,000MW of US wind-powered capacity, around 2012 is revealed here, along with an account of the industry’s development there.