Open Engineering
Environment and Development.

Wind Energy - an Engineering Success Story

Wind turbines are a modern engineering success story: in three decades they have gone from being a curiosity to being a major component in the electricity generation plans of many countries. The growth in size is spectacular. In the early 1980's 50kW machines were typical, a mid-Wales windfarm I visited in 1989 had 100 turbines of 300kW each. Today, 2MW turbines are common, the first 5MW machine to come to the UK is being installed offshore: just one of todays turbines could replace 100 of those of 25 years ago! And development hasn't stopped there: one of the latest models is 7MW [1].

There is plenty of exellent material available on the web about wind energy and wind turbines. See for example:

Arguments Made Against Wind Energy

Wind turbines suffer a lot of almost vitriolic comment in the press and on internet blogs. This is curious because they are one of the most harmless and environmentally-friendly ways of generating electricity ever found. Coal requires dirty and dangerous mining, all fossil fuels produce carbon emissions, nuclear produces radioactive wastes and plutonium, and even hydro means that valleys have to be drowned to make the reservoirs. Perhaps it is simply that wind is the most immediate challenge to the vested interest in existing forms of generation. Some of the arguments raised by opponents of wind energy are ...

There are many more claims and arguments made against wind energy, e.g. that it takes more energy to make a wind turbine than you get out (not true). Doubtless such arguments will keep coming - the latest I've heard are that offshore turbines make the UK vulnerable to attack because they will confuse air defence radar, and even that all windmills have an "unatural menace" being why Don Quixote saw them as "monstrous giants".

Switch Supplier

UK residents can buy their electricity from a company that concentrates on renewable energy. Two such companies are:

Switching can be done on-line and prices are similar to those of the major suppliers.


[1] 7 Megawatt wind turbine. New Record: World’s Largest Wind Turbine.

[2] UK electricity consumption for 2005 CIA World Factbook.

[3] Capacity factor and electricity data for wind in Scotland "http://www.esru.strath . ac . uk/EandE/Web_sites/01-02/RE_info/interesting.htm" Interesting Figures on Renewables in Scotland (site "www.esru.strath . ac . uk /EandE/Web_sites/01-02/RE_info/index.htm).

[4] Birds: RSPB's policy on wind farms, American Bird Conservancy's Wind Energy Policy, American Wind Energy Association article. Birds deaths due to cats: How man’s best friend becomes birds’ worst enemy ... from The Times, September 5, 2007.

[5] The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America programme.


Paul Gipes website is a mine of information on wind: Wind-Works.