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Renewables explained: How wind power works

Renewables explained: How wind power works

Wind power is a clean and safe source of renewable energy for Australia, but how does it actually work?

How wind power works

Did you know that all wind power starts with the sun?

Wind currents are a type of solar energy that result from changes in air temperature and pressure. Wind power works by converting the kinetic energy of the wind into electrical energy through the use of a wind turbine. A wind turbine is made up of four main parts: the base, tower, generator and blades (or propellers), which catch the wind’s currents.

Kinetic energy from the wind forces the turbine’s propellers to turn, which spins a series of gears connected to the generator. The generator then converts the wind’s energy into electricity. The longer the propellers, the more kinetic energy they can catch and ‘harvest’ from the wind, so even gentle breezes can produce electricity. This is one of the reasons why some wind turbines are so big!

Why wind power makes sense

Utility-scale wind turbines come in different capacities depending on the application, ranging from a few hundred kilowatts (kW) for residential use to several megawatts (MW) for commercial applications. The amount of energy produced depends on the size of the turbine and the weather conditions. Fortunately, Australia is home to excellent wind resources, including the southern coastline and elevated areas in most states.

Unlike coal and gas developments, which require significant ongoing operating expenses, wind turbines are highly cost-effective once installed. Grouped together into ‘wind farms’ to collect the energy and send it to the electrical grid, wind turbines are fast becoming one of Australia’s most abundant sources of clean, renewable energy.

Wind energy in Australia

South Australia is currently the biggest producer of wind energy in Australia, with 17 wind farms in operation, including the Waterloo wind farm and the Cathedral Rocks wind farm.  At the end of 2014, there were a total of 1866 wind turbines operating across 71 wind farms around Australia, producing over 30 per cent of our nation’s clean energy and 4.2 per cent of its total electricity.1 With several new projects in development, wind-power generation is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years.

Australia is looking to wind power to meet the need for clean, sustainable and cost-effective energy. Find out how you can show your support for the renewable energy industry, or contact EnergyAustralia today for more information.