Alternative Energy: Wind

Power is generated by turbines that harness wind to mechanically power generators to produce electricity. This source of energy is renewable, significantly less harmful to the environment than traditional energy, and is seeing a huge increase in development. A wind farm is a collection of several hundred wind turbines that connect to a high capacity electrical transmission network to power a grid. Wind farms can be developed quite rapidly – some in as little as a year.

Growth and Potential of the Industry

As of 2014, wind farms accounted for 318,000 megawatts of generating capacity throughout 90 countries. China and the United States lead the pack in the amount of energy being generated from wind power.

Characteristics of the Type of Land Needed

The type of land needed for a wind energy company comes down to the topography and surrounding area. Flat, dry land is preferred and any shrubbery or tall vegetation that could impede wind flow would have to be removed. Furthermore, wind turbines generate a substantial amount of noise so land in developed areas near communities would not be viable for a wind farm. Soil that is not soft decreases the cost of development but softer soil can be compacted and mixed with clay beforehand.

Industry Terms

Aggregation: Combining multiple wind energy projects together to optimize efficiency and streamline costs.

Anemometer: An instrument used to measure the velocity/speed of the wind.

Commercial Scale Wind: Wind energy projects greater than 100 KW in which the electricity is sold rather than used on-site. This category includes large wind farms of 100+ wind turbines owned and managed by large corporations. Can also be applied to a single and locally owned wind turbine more than 100 KW in size.

Independent Power Producer: An electricity generator that sells electricity but is not owned by a utility.

Wind Power Class: A system that rates the quality of the wind in a geographical area based on the average wind speed per year. The scale ranges from 1 to 7, with 1 being the poorest wind energy resource and 7 representing exceptional wind energy quality.

Wind Resource: The wind energy available in a geographical area based on historical wind data, topographic features of the land, and other parameters.

Wind Resource Assessment: The process of determining the wind resource of a certain location and characterizing its viability for a wind energy resource.