This website uses cookies. The third part cookies used on this website are used to gather information about how people navigate the site. If you continue to use our website, you accept the use of cookies. Find out more about cookies used on vestas.com and how to delete them here. Cookie Policy

Why Wind

Because the future won't wait

The future isn't a faraway place. It's as near as tomorrow and it will affect us all. As energy consumption soars, how will we meet the demand? Fossil fuels are a finite resource that will gradually disappear. The natural replacement is sweeping freely around the earth. Wind. Its renewable, predictable, fast to install, clean, and commercially viable.

We have the data to support our prediction that by 2020 as much as 10 per cent of the world’s electricity consumption will be satisfied by energy from the wind. What’s more, we have the confidence to say that wind power is an industry on par with coal and gas.

Vestas | Wind - Because the futre won't wait

    Close

    Competitive

    Wind power is competitive

    Vestas has taken wind power to a level of technological maturity where it can compete on price with conventional sources of energy such as oil and gas, making it a sound business investment.

    Wind power is free and plentiful

    In 2006, a report by Emerging Energy Research showed that land-based wind power is equal in cost to electricity from a new natural gas fired plant – and only marginally more expensive than electricity from a new coal-fired power station. And that’s before the cost of CO2 emissions are taken into account.

    Improved technology drives competitiveness

    Since the installation of our first turbine in 1979, we’ve improved output 100 times over. And through our world-leadering turbine technology, we are driving down the cost of wind-generated electricity still further. Today, our global organisation focuses on seeking new ways to improve turbine efficiency. One result of these efforts is our 3MW platform.Every aspect of the 3MW platform has been  rethought to reduce the cost per kWh and allowing it to produce enough electricity in three hours supply the average European household for an entire year.

    Predictable

    Wind power is predictable

    As we all know, the price of oil, natural gas and other non-renewable materials can be  volatile. But the price of wind is predictable and stable – and free in every currency. This creates the strongest possible business case for people and governments looking for more secure ways to invest in energy.

    Meeting the world’s energy demands

    Neither wind turbines nor conventional energy plants run at full capacity 365 days a year.  But  in countries like Denmark, wind already meets one-fifth of the population’s total energy needs – and Denmark achieved this using less than 20 per cent of its wind resources. On continuously windy days, Denmark actually gets all of its electricity from the wind.

    Making turbines even more reliable

    At Vestas, we’ve been harnessing the power of wind for over 30 years. This explains why our turbines are already the most efficient on the market. But we don’t believe in standing still. Our R&D centers around the world enable us to make our turbines 100 times more efficient than they were 25 years ago.

    Independent

    Energy independence and local jobs

    Wind knows no limits, nor does it recognise national boundaries. It’s an unlimited form of energy, and it’s found freely in countries with even the poorest natural resources. Wherever it blows, it can bring jobs to support the local economy – and break the dependence on energy from external suppliers.

    Wind power is independent

    This two-fold benefit is important not only for business but for political decision-makers. Energy is becoming an increasingly strategic issue for governments around the world – especially those currently dependent on foreign imports to fuel their homes and economies.

    Fast

    Wind power is fast

    With wind power, there are none of the long lead times involved with conventional fuels. In less than 12 months, a Vestas wind power plant can be up and running – producing energy, and generating a return on investment quickly.

    Making wind energy an attractive investment

    From a business perspective, we can predict that wind will provide at least 10 per cent of world electricity consumption by 2020. This will require greater investment in wind power throughout the world, and we know it can be achieved.

    We are constantly researching ways to shorten the time it takes to install our turbines to make wind power even more attractive.

    An investment in wind power through Vestas creates a ‘win-win’ situation for the environment and the economy – with clean energy free from CO2, and thousands of sustainable jobs.

    Clean

    Wind power is clean

    Wind power produces energy, pure and simple. No CO2, no other greenhouse gasses, no hazardous waste left behind as a poisonous legacy for future generations. And, unlike coal and nuclear plants, it doesn’t consume huge amounts of water – which is itself becoming a scarce resource.

    Clean energy efficiency

    As an example, one V126-3.3 MW wind turbine in a low wind will generate 240,000 MWh during its 20 years of operation – thus sparing the environment the impact of a net volume of approx 230,000 tons of CO2, as compared to the figures for energy generated by a coal-fired power station.

    Leading the world in sustainable energy

    At Vestas, we already lead the world in turning wind power into clean, sustainable electricity. But we also want to lead by example. So our goal is that by 2020, 60 per cent of our own internal energy needs will be met by clean electricity.

    Multi-rotor concept demonstration turbine

    In cooperation with the Technical University of Denmark, Vestas is installing a concept demonstrator to test the technical feasibility to operate and control a multi-rotor turbine.

    Use the links below to download the fact sheet, official photos and watch a video about the project.

    Political Affairs

    Vestas | Political affairs - Three initiatives that could lead the way

    Three initiatives could lead the way: the polluter pays principle, securing a level playing field and rewarding power sources with positive externalities.

    Policy makers around the world stand before a historic opportunity to meet the growing demand for energy without inflicting substantial costs to society due to adapting to climate change and pollution.

    Over the coming decades the global energy demand is expected to increase heavily (27-61 per cent. in 2050 according to World Energy Council). At the same time a large number of conventional power plants are aging and will be shut down.

    The world needs new capacity and wind energy is a proven technology which can supply part of this quickly and effectively. At the same time, wind energy limits the indirect costs from climate change and pollution, which is an integrated part of power production with fossil fuels. Consequently, wind energy is a very cost effective solution to society.

    However, in many countries not all indirect costs are considered in decisions about power production. This leads to suboptimal solutions, and policy changes are needed nationally and globally to alter

      Close

      Polluter pays principle

      The polluter should incur the costs from the negative effects - no matter if this comes in the form of health effects, water pollution, climate change or something else. It sounds logical, but in reality it is not.

      We need to follow the polluter pays principle when it comes to power production. This includes putting a price on CO2 emission, which reflects the costs from adapting to a changing climate. Without such a price, society will continue to suffer the costs and polluters will continue not to weigh in the societal costs of their actions.

      This is not sustainable, and policies need to start moving in the direction of following the polluter pays principle in all cases.

      Vestas | Polluter pays principle

      Securing a level playing field

      Subsidies are a necessary tool in supporting new technologies which are not yet competitive but have substantial positive characteristics from a societal perspective. However, subsidies should be limited to exactly that, as continuing the support beyond this point will hinder free competition.

      Today, this is not the case. In the OECD-countries alone, support mechanisms for fossil fuels include 550 different schemes, according to OECD.

      In order for  different technologies to compete at a level playing field, policy makers need to look thoroughly into the long list of support mechanisms and direct them to immature – but promising – technologies.

      Onshore wind energy is a proven technology able to compete with other energy technologies and consequently should be able to live without subsidies in the near future. However, this requires a level playing field which would include the end of fossil fuel subsidies.

      Vestas | Securing a level playing field

      Rewarding power sources with positive impacts

      There are two sides to the coin of impacts from power production – the negative and the positive ones. The negative impacts should be covered through different measures, including the "polluter pays" principle. At the same time, though, we need to put a value on the positive impacts.

      Positive Impacts on society from power production can take different forms. We need to remunerate the most important ones, as this is the only way to make sure that the value to society is included in the decision made by investors and power producers about how to produce the needed power.

      Two examples of important impacts are the security of supply and price stability. They are important, because dependence on import of a certain fuel from other countries adds to the vulnerability of the power production.

      For instance, what happens if the import is suddenly impossible – due to political or other reasons – or if the price suddenly goes through the roof?  History can show us many examples of this.

      With wind energy this is not an issue. Wind is a free fuel and it can be harvested within a country's own borders. Policy makers should ensure this is considered among investors and power producers.

      Vestas | Rewarding power sources with positive impacts

      Without remunerating these positive side effects, they are not considered and the final outcome might be to continue the high dependence on imported fuels.

      Therefore, we need a transparent and stable legislation, which put a specific value on the different positive side effects.

      Why do 2030 energy and climate targets matter?

      The transition to a new energy system guided by clear and binding renewable energy targets has proven to boost the global economic growth of a new European industrial sector, create new jobs and contribute to securing environmental protection. The EU 20-20-20 framework has set a clear direction for its energy and climate policies up to 2020. However, 2030 is already at our doorstep. Given the long investment cycles in the energy sector and that investment decisions both for 2020 and beyond, strongly depend on policy directions, certainty about the regulatory framework is urgently needed.

      It is time to act

      It is not the targets per se that really matter, but rather what we are trying to achieve through renewable energy targets. Climate science is clear that greenhouse gas emissions must be cut dramatically to limit the effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide concentrations have recently breached 400ppm, the highest concentration level in the atmosphere ever recorded. This should be a wakeup call to policy makers in Europe and across the globe.

      Learn more in the Vestas Position Paper EU 2030.

      Read the press release from Vestas about welcoming EU's decision on a 27% renewable energy target here.

      EU 2030 

      Vestas' recommendations for EU 2030:

      1. A legally binding renewable energy (RE) target of at least 30%
      2. A greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction target of at least 40% supported by a meaningful and robust carbon price
      3. Sufficient grid infrastructure build out, including a minimum interconnection target between national markets
      4. Full implementation of the internal energy market, completed in a way that facilitates the full integration of renewable energy.

      Power to your Pocket

      Onshore wind is now one of the UK’s cheapest sources of new power generation. The UK needs to secure new sources of power as all its coal stations are due to close by 2025, as well as many gas and nuclear stations.  Continuing to build onshore wind will increase the amount of low cost power in the UK’s energy mix.  This will reduce the need for other, more expensive options, helping save consumers money, as well as reducing CO2 emissions. 

      We want consumers to understand the energy choices they face, which is why we have developed Power to your Pocket. Find out more below.

      You can also download our Power to your Pocket infographic or the press release.

        Close

        Cost of electricity

        Cost of different sources of electricity
        Bloomberg New Energy Finance calculates the cost of generating electricity from a variety of sources available in the UK.  It finds that onshore wind is one of the cheapest sources of electricity in the UK [NB: these figures show projects starting construction today, the longer construction time for a gas station means by the time it is operating its costs have increased above those for onshore wind.]

        These figures show ‘levelised’ costs.  Levelised costs show the cost of generating a unit of electricity taking account of investment as well as ongoing costs.  The cost of construction is spread across every unit of electricity generated over the plant’s lifetime and variable costs like fuel, CO2 and maintenance are added to it.

        How is the price of onshore wind and gas generation expected to change over time?

        The future price of gas is highly uncertain.  This makes it extremely difficult to know the cost of generating electricity using gas a long way in advance.  Today the price is very low, but this could change.   Many expect the cost of gas to rise in future.  On the other hand the cost of new onshore wind farms is expected to decrease over time as turbines continue to get more powerful. Unlike a gas station, once a wind farm is built the cost of its electricity, across its whole 20-25 year lifetime, is known.

        Bloomberg New Energy Finance calculate the cost of electricity from new gas stations and new onshore wind farms to evolve as outlined in the chart below:

        Price of onshore wind and gas

        UK’s future needs

        How many power stations are closing?
        Nearly 20 power stations have closed in the last five years. This includes coal, oil, gas and nuclear stations. A further four nuclear stations are due to close in the next ten years as well as all the remaining coal stations. Plant closures to date total 14GW of capacity, or around 16% of the operational capacity in 2010. So far the closures have been mostly offset by an increase in renewable electricity generation.

        Almost half of the electricity needed in 2030 will need to come from new plants.

        The need to reduce CO2 emissions
        To help avoid the most serious climate change the UK is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% in 2050 compared to 1990 levels.  Electricity generation is one of the UK’s largest sources of CO2.

        To meet the 2050 commitment emissions from electricity generation must be almost eliminated by 2030.  The UK needs to shift to low carbon sources of power, such as wind, solar and nuclear. All coal stations are due to close by 2025.  By 2030 gas fired power stations will need to either capture their emissions (a technology which is not yet commercially deployed in the UK) or they will have to significantly reduce the number of hours they operate for. 

        Wind in the UK

        How much of the UK’s electricity comes from onshore Wind?
        Around 7% of UK electricity generation in 2015 came from onshore wind, and almost 12% from onshore and offshore wind combined. 
        UK electricity mix 2015 
        Wind is now the UK’s fourth largest source of electricity. The amount of generation from wind has increased significantly since 2010.

        How predictable is wind power?
        Generation from a wind farm is extremely predictable one day ahead. Accurate forecasts enable the electricity system operator (National Grid in the UK) to balance the system.

        How many onshore wind turbines are there in the UK?

        There are over 5,200 wind turbines in the UK, spread across more than 900 wind farms (including small scale and individual turbines).

        How much more of the UK’s electricity could be generated from wind?
        Wind (onshore and offshore) could supply over 20% of the UK’s electricity in 2020 and up to 38% of the UK’s power in 2030.  This would require the amount of electricity generated from onshore wind to treble by 2030, and for offshore wind to increase four or five fold. 

        Where are onshore wind farms located?
        There are wind turbines in most regions of the UK, but the majority are in Scotland.

        Do people like wind energy?

        Onshore wind is one of the most popular sources of electricity. Government polling show that around 2/3rd of people support onshore wind with just 3% strongly opposed to it. New wind farms will only be built where there is support from the local community.

        Support for onshore wind in the UK
        (click to enlarge)

        Wind on the grid

        How often do wind farms operate?
        Wind farms generate electricity when wind reaches around 8-11 miles per hour (4-5 metres per second). This means most sites will generate around 70-85% of the time, but not necessarily at full power.  On average wind farms generate 26% of their maximum potential output over a year. This is called their load factor.

        What impact does wind have on the wholesale power price?
        When output from wind turbines across the country is high it can reduce the wholesale price of power. This is because it is more expensive to generate electricity from a station that has to pay for fuel and other operating costs (like gas and coal stations) than it is for a wind turbine to generate electricity.  The electricity market is designed so that in general, the cheapest combination of available power sources is used in each half hour period.

        Does more onshore wind make it difficult to operate the electricity network?
        The wind doesn’t always blow, so wind turbines don’t always generate electricity. National Grid has lots of tools to help it balance the system.  Grid links (interconnectors) with France, Belgium, Netherlands and Ireland can help balance the system by enabling power to be imported and exported. New interconnections with Denmark, Norway are planned. National Grid can also ask other power stations to increase output and large electricity users can offer to reduce their use of power. In future ‘smart’ technology may help balance the system.

        What is the cost of having large amounts of wind on the electricity system?
        The cost today is modest as the amount of wind and other intermittent renewable generation on the system is relatively low.  By 2030, when there will be a lot more renewable energy generation connected to the system it is estimated that the cost to the system will be around £7.60/MWh for wind generation compared to the same output being supplied by nuclear generation. This would add around 12% to the cost of electricity from onshore wind. The cost includes the building and operation of back up gas stations to fill in when wind output is low. These estimates assume that the power sector reaches a carbon intensity of 100kg/CO2/MWh.

        Technology evolution

        How have wind turbines evolved?
        Wind turbines have got larger and more powerful. The first onshore wind turbines installed in the UK could generate a maximum of 0.4 MW or 440 kW. The very newest turbines about to be installed in the UK at Bhlaraidh can generate up to 3.45MW, that’s more than 8.5 times as powerful. As turbines have become more powerful their blades have become longer, increasing their rotor diameter. The earliest turbines in the UK had rotor diameters of 37 metres. The rotor diameter of the turbines to be installed at Bhlaraidh is 117 metres. 

        Larger blades increases the ‘swept area’ this means more wind, and wind energy, can be captured by each turbine. The more wind energy that can be captured the more electricity can be generated. The increase in turbine size is the single most important factor in reducing the cost of onshore wind. In other countries larger turbines are already in operation.  
        Turbine Evolution
        (click on the image to see a full timeline)

        How much electricity can a single wind turbine generate?
        At full output, each revolution of a modern turbine’s blades can power an average UK household for 9 hours. The newest onshore wind turbines planned for the UK can generate around 3.45 MW each. Over a year a turbine would generate around 9 GWh, or around 2,250 households.

        Assumptions:
        Turbine capacity: 3.45 MW
        Blade revolutions per minute: 13.85 RPM
        Generation per revolution:  4.15 kWh
        Average annual household demand = 4 MWh
        Average hourly household demand = 0.46k Wh
        4.15 kWh / 0.46 kWh per hour = 9.02 hours

        What happens to old wind farms?
        Wind turbines normally operate for 20-25 years.  After that time they can be replaced by newer, more powerful machines.  It is called ‘repowering’.  In the 2020s some of the UK’s wind farms will come to the end of their operational life and will need repowering. Often the number of turbines can be reduced whilst significantly increasing the output of the site. The 15 wind turbines at the UK’s very first wind farm, Carland Cross, were replaced with just 10 new machines, yet the output of the site increased more than three times, from 6 MW to 20 MW.

        Economic benefits

        UK economic benefit
        Around 70% of the economic value of an onshore wind farm remains within the UK economy. This supports jobs and growth in both the regions hosting the wind farm and the wider economy. 

        Job creation
        An electrician one year, a wind turbine technician the next? Around 9,000 people currently work in the UK’s onshore wind industry and more than 8,000 more are employed indirectly.  People join the wind sector from a range of backgrounds.  Have you thought about a job in the wind sector?

        UK infrastructure
        The UK onshore wind industry has seen over £850m of capital Investment in 2014/15 alone. Investments like this brings real value to the UK economy.

        Community benefits
        Many communities benefit directly from the wind farms they host. Over £9m is paid each year to the local communities by wind farms.  This funding supports a range of schemes, from support for local broadband and help for local services such as nurseries to discounted electricity bills.

        Wind commitment

        A carbon conscious future

        Climate change and energy security are two of the most significant challenges the world faces today and future generations will inherit tomorrow. Companies, as responsible members of global society, and as energy consumers, can make a choice for positive change.

        At Vestas, we are committed to protect you and our planet. Through our many initiatives you can make the carbon-conscious choice to work together with us to move our society one step closer to a more sustainable world.

        Join us and help make a difference!

        Related links

          Close

          WindMade

          Vestas co-founded and is lead sponsor of WindMade™ - the first consumer label for wind energy. WindMade is designed to inform consumers about the source of the energy used to make the products they buy and thus encourage corporations to source renewable energy to run their operations. The participating companies – including Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank and Motorola Mobility – have signed a declaration of intent to the effect that wind power is to cover at least 25% of their power consumption. WindMade™ is driving the global adoption of wind energy and is moving the discussion from how much energy a product uses during its lifetime to the embodied energy of the product.

          Vestas achieved the 100 percent WindMade™ certificate for its global operations in March 2015 through its own wind power generation.

          Vestas wants to show the world that large production companies can reduce their environmental footprint and pave the way for a CO2 free economy.
          With the WindMade™ initiative, Vestas encourages consumers as well as companies in addressing the consequences of climate change by investing directly in wind power.

          To learn more about WindMade visit www.windmade.org.

          Vestas | WindMade