Currently, approximately 13% of the EU’s carbon-neutral electricity production comes from wind power. The share of wind power varies by country. Of the Nordics countries, Sweden has a particularly strong wind power base, and many new wind parks have been built in recent years. Finland and Norway are catching up, and the market in Finland is currently quite attractive. In Europe, the majority of new electricity production investments are in wind or solar power – it has become mainstream.
Is your idea of a wind power turbine outdated?
In the last decade or two, wind power has developed tremendously. Wind power plants produce much more electricity than before – as much as ten times more than the plants of the early 2000s. This is mainly because of the increased size of the individual wind turbines. Blades are longer and rotors larger than before, so the turbine swipes at a larger area as its turns, producing more energy. With bigger generators and gear systems, the output increases further. One modern wind turbine produces 19 GWh a year – enough to power 13,000 households. Ten years ago, the output of one turbine was 8 GWh/year, so the increase is considerable.
Another significant factor in the development is the increased height of the wind turbines. Higher up, the winds are stronger, and therefore higher turbines are more productive. Earlier, wind parks were only built in places with ideal wind conditions, such as coastlines or fell tops, to reach sufficient output levels. Today, there are much more potential areas where wind power is feasible. Offshore wind farms are also a possibility, albeit a more expensive one than onshore installations.
New materials have also contributed to the development. For example, using carbon fibre in the turbine blades makes them stronger and lighter, which has made it possible to build longer blades.
Wind power has many benefits. The most important is that it is emission-free and renewable. In addition, it is available everywhere in the world. Conditions may be better in one place and less optimal in another, but wind is everywhere. In Finland and Sweden, it is also now the cheapest alternative when it comes to building new electricity production.
Due to its intermittent nature of production, other sources of CO2-free power generation are needed. Sufficient amounts of electricity must be provided to households and industries at all times, regardless of the weather conditions. Therefore, for example hydropower or nuclear power is used to balance renewables and ensure security of supply.