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Wind energy

Wind energy

From the first Ancient Egyptian vessels, pushed by the hot desert breeze to cross the Nile, to the windmills that first inspired Cervantes for his masterpiece, Don Quixote, right up to modern-day wind turbines: the history of wind energy is overflowing with inspirations and insights.

About wind energy

The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Be it on land or at sea, from the very dawn of time, mankind has harnessed wind power to perform actions that proved impossible by physical strength alone. On land, wind power was channeled by windmills to grind wheat or pump water from deep wells. At sea, wind has inflated the sails of boats and crafts of all sizes, giving humankind the chance to wonder beyond the great blue yonder.

Don Quixote, the protagonist of Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece, is probably one of the all-time faces of wind power. As he challenged Spain’s windmills, the knight errant was testament to wind power’s established presence in seventeenth century Europe. Although time had to fast forward by two centuries before by the end of the nineteenth century, humankind developed the capacity to harness electricity resulting from the change in pressure between two air masses.

Technological evolution and innovation were instrumental in the development of wind energy, leading to modern-day wind turbines. Based on data from a 2019 report drafted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), wind energy currently ranks in second place among renewable energy sources with 564 GW-worth of installed capacity and counting: wind power accounts for 5% of global electricity production, a figure which has doubled over the last 10 years. 

History of wind energy

From sea to land, going through space

How does wind power work?

Have you ever wondered how wind turbines are able to convert the wind’s kinetic energy into electricity? They are made up of various elements that, together, make it possible to catch the wind and produce energy. Watch this video in order to learn all the details.

The basis of wind energy stands in harnessing wind’s power through a wind turbine, the modern-day version of old windmills.

When the wind blows with adequate intensity, its power moves the blades that activate a rotor located inside a casing structure called the nacelle.

The rotor’s motion is then transferred to a gearbox that accelerates its rotation and transfers it to the alternator, tasked with transforming mechanical energy in electricity. During the entire process, a control system performs checks on all nacelle components, ensuring operations are running smoothly.

Once an electrical current is generated, it’s transferred through a power cable towards a transformer that collects all energy generated from each individual turbine of the wind farm and subsequently dispatched to the power grid.

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Strong points of wind energy

One resource, many prospects

Downward costs

The energy generation cost by megawatt/hour of wind energy as plummeted over the last years: wind is a limitless resource and widely available throughout the planet.

Green jobs

The wind energy sector employs about 1.2 million workers. The demand for skilled workers is on the rise: by 2030 over 18 million new jobs will be created worldwide by the green economy.

A second life

The average lifespan of windfarms stands between 20 and 25 years: once the infrastructure is decommissioned, many parts may be successfully recycled to guarantee a new life for its components.

Frequently asked questions on wind energy

By 2050 more than a third of the world’s energy will come from wind. Wind technology doesn’t only make a vital contribution to the fight against climate change, but it also supports local economies by creating jobs and helping the communities that host wind farms. Here are the answers to any questions you might have about this renewable source of energy.

Did you know?

A celebration of wind

Wind energy is the only renewable energy source privileged enough to have its very own day of worldwide celebration, called the Global Wind Day. Each year on June 15, WindEurope, GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council) and EWEA (European Wind Energy Association) unite with trade associations and utilities to showcase guided tours, shows and exhibitions where wind energy is the sole protagonist.

Global Wind Day’s first edition was celebrated in 2007 with 18 participating countries and 35,000 people attending local events. Since then, attendance levels and events have grown exponentially in size, in no small part thanks to a 2019 photographic contest that showcased over 600 pictures in 50 different countries.

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