Why do some wind turbines spin, while others next to them do not?
Continuous variations in wind direction, speed and intensity cause some turbines to spin while others nearby may be idle.
How reliable is wind energy?
Sophisticated monitoring and wind resource analysis allow wind developers to estimate with a high degree of certainty "when" and "how much" wind energy is available, so customers can plan their wind power purchases. When the wind blows, it can displace fossil-fueled generation such as oil and gas. Studies have shown that when a utility diversifies its power portfolio with the addition of wind energy, it can meet demands more reliably.
What happens when the wind doesn't blow?
When the wind is calm, the turbine is at rest. However, at the hub height of a utility-scale wind turbine – usually more than 200 feet above ground – on a site selected specifically for its good wind resources, it is rare for the wind to be totally still.
Are there wind seasons?
Yes, but they vary by region. In California, the peak wind season is summer; in the Midwest, it's fall and winter; in Texas, spring is peak. Each wind plant has specific daily and seasonal variations. Each wind site also has specific wind patterns, which are determined through wind studies conducted during early development of a project.
Do wind turbines operate in extreme temperatures / weather conditions?
Turbines sited in areas that experience extreme cold or heat are equipped with special Arctic or tropical equipment packages. Nevertheless, in sustained winds of 56 mph or gusts of about 100 mph, turbines shut down automatically.
How often do turbines require maintenance?
Wind turbines generally require preventative maintenance checkups two to three times per year.
What does the computer system inside a wind turbine do?
The elaborate computer system inside a turbine performs thorough self-diagnostic tests and troubleshoots errors before the startup command is given. If the computer detects any problems it cannot auto-correct, the turbine automatically shuts down. In addition, a SCADA (system control and data acquisition) control system allows a remote operator (using a data link from anywhere in the country) to set new operating parameters, perform system checks and ensure turbines are operating at peak performance.
Is wind energy just the latest energy fad?
Not at all. Today, wind energy is the fastest-growing renewable energy resource in the world. Wind energy has always been clean and renewable and, over the past 20 years, the cost of wind energy has dropped about 80 percent. With the federal production tax credit, wind energy can be competitive with other energy sources.
How safe are wind turbines?
Wind energy is one of the safest energy technologies, with several built-in safety features.
"They also require minimal maintenance, and the reliability of wind turbines, measured in terms of availability to make electricity when the wind is blowing, is better than 98 percent." (Source: Paul Gipe, Wind Power Comes of Age, 1996)
What effect does lightning have on turbine operations?
Modern turbines are equipped with an extensive lightning protection system that transfers high voltages and currents without affecting turbine operations.
Are wind turbines noisy?
Wind turbines have moving parts, but the sound they make is virtually undetectable from a distance. You would have little difficulty conversing right beneath one.
Does Wind Energy Rely on Government Subsidies?
All forms of energy production – whether fossil fuel or renewable – receive some level of support from federal and state governments to encourage investment. To learn more, view our Wind Energy - Government Subsidies Fact Sheet.
What impact will a wind farm have on my property value?
Multiple studies have found wind farms have no significant long-term impacts on property values. View our property values fact sheet.
Do wind turbines negatively impact our health?
No. When properly sited, wind turbines are safe and effective means of generating electricity. Learn more about Wind & Health.
What happens at the end of a wind farm’s useful life?
Decommissioning is the process of removing all wind turbines and returning the land to its original condition. Learn more about decommissioning.
Do wind turbines impact birds, bats and wildlife?
Wind Energy is far less harmful to wildlife than traditional energy sources it displaces. View our Wind & Environment Fact Sheet.