The Power of Wind

Quick facts about Wind Power and Wind Turbines

One of the major aspects of going green is finding eco-friendly energy sources. One of those sources is wind power. Maybe you’ve seen clusters of futuristic looking windmills on hills or mountainsides off the side of a highway you’re driving down. Those babies are where wind power begins.

10 Quick facts about wind power

  1. Wind mills have been in use since 2000 B.C. and were first developed in China and Persia.
  2. Wind power is currently the fastest-growing source of electricity production in the world.
  3. A single wind turbine can power 500 homes.
  4. In 2013, the roughly 168 million megawatt-hours generated by wind energy avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — the equivalent of reducing power-sector CO2 emissions by 4.4% or removing 16.9 million cars from the roads.
  5. Unlike nearly every other form of energy, wind power uses virtually no water and it is a clean source of renewable energy that produces no pollution.
  6. At times, wind power produces as much as 45% of the electricity in Spain.
  7. Wind is a credible source of new electricity generation in the United States. Wind power comprised 43% of all new U.S. electric capacity additions in 2012 and represented $25 billion in new investment. Wind power currently contributes more than 12% of total electricity generation in nine states and provides more than 4% of total U.S. electricity supply.
  8. Since the wind is free, operational costs are nearly zero once a turbine is erected. Mass production and technology advances are making turbines cheaper, and many governments offer tax incentives to spur wind-energy development.
  9. The slowly rotating blades can also kill birds and bats, but not nearly as many as cars, power lines, and high-rise buildings do.
  10. Germany has the most installed wind energy capacity, followed by Spain, the United States, India, and Denmark. Development is also fast growing in France and China.


What is happening in South Africa?

Africa’s largest wind farm, with 60 turbines, has been officially opened at Jeffreys Bay. The wind farm site is 3 700ha. Each wind turbine is 80m high with blades 49m long and a rotor diameter of 101m. Each turbine generates 2.3MW of energy.

The 138MW power plant, which has been producing electricity since December, is among the projects in the government’s renewable energy programme, through which private companies like Thebe bid to build renewable energy power stations.

The wind farm, close to the N2 in the Eastern Cape, has the capacity to supply enough energy for about 100 000 households and could contribute about 460 000 megawatt hours of electricity a year to the national grid.

“In a country struggling to meet its escalating demands for electricity, we are proud to be contributing,” says Vusi Khanyile of Thebe Investments.

If the pace of growth of wind power continues, we might just find that the answer to South Africa’s energy crisis may be blowing in the wind.