11 Wind Turbine Facts You Should Know
Wind turbine installations are soaring to record numbers. The total rotor diameters installed in 2017 was 370 in the US, a 135% increase since 1998-1999. Given these figures, it only seems fair that we highlight some wind turbine facts you should know.
Fact #1: Humans have been harness energy from the wind for generations. Traditionally, the energy produced by windmills was used to pump water and process grain. The uses of wind energy have expanded with the emergence of technology and more efficient turbines.
Fact #2: The first wind turbine to generate electricity was invented by James Blythe in 1887. It was a cloth-sail turbine that charged accumulators at his home and power lights. In 1887, Charles F. Brush invented the first automatically operated turbine generator. He used the electricity generated to charge 12 batteries in his Cleveland mansion.
Fact #3: The history of the windmill technology can be traced to 500-900 AD when the Persians made use of it. Windmills became increasingly popular in Europe in 14th century. Daniel Halladay invented the first wind engine (a self-regulating wind pump) in 1854 and used it to mostly lift water from wells.
Fact #4: A collection of wind turbines is called a wind farm. It can be placed either on land or in the sea. This is one of the key factors that differentiate wind power from other renewable energy sources. Coastal countries can benefit from onshore and offshore locations that may suitable for harvesting wind energy.
Fact #5: There are two main types of wind turbines i.e. horizontal and vertical axis turbines. Horizontal turbines have a long tower with a rotor and turbine at the top. They are the most popular. The shaft of a vertical turbine is attached to vertically positioned blades and the turbine is found at the base.
Fact #6: China produces the highest amount of energy. In 2016, she produced 242,388 GW of wind power while the US produced 229,471 GW. These figures are most likely to increase in the coming years.
Fact #7: A report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency cited Europe as the continent with the highest wind power production. In 2016, it produced 306,340 GW of wind power and Asia came at a close second with 294,506 GW.
Fact #8: Wind is a clean and renewable source of energy. It is environment-friendly and unlike fossil fuels, doesn’t result in production of greenhouse gases. The fact that it will never run out makes it a great alternative to non-renewable sources of energy.
Fact #9: Turbines can spin at up to 180 miles per hour. The speed varies depending on size, placement, overall design, and actual wind speeds. Advancements in technology are likely to lead to production of turbines that can spin faster.
Fact #10: The largest turbines can power more than 15,000 homes, an impressive figure when you consider the many small turbines scattered in farms around the world. Smaller turbines are also available for residential customers. They can prove beneficial for businesses that want to power a factory, warehouse etc.
Fact #11: The largest wind farm in the world is Alta Wind Energy (California), which has 586 turbines. The largest offshore wind farm is London Array. It is located 20km off the coast in Thames Estuary and has 175 turbines.
The Bottom Line
So, these are some of the most interesting facts about wind turbines you probably didn’t know. From the first ever wind turbine to the country with the highest wind energy production, the energy output capability of turbines, and the largest wind farm in the world.
Probably the best, and most widely known fact is that wind is a clean and renewable source of energy!
What other fact(s) do you know about wind turbines do you know? Share with us below.