What is wind energy?

Wind energy is electricity that’s been created by converting air flow into green energy, through the use of wind turbines. It’s cleaner, safer, and more abundant than energy made from fossil fuels.

The energy generated from the wind doesn’t release any carbon emissions, and it’s a viable solution to climate change.

Wind power won’t ever run out, and Britain has 40% of Europe’s wind source – which is enough to power the country several times over.

Different types of wind energy

Offshore

Offshore wind turbines are built out at sea. They’re able to generate electricity from the wind really efficiently, because the tidal breeze produces consistent kinetic energy.

Onshore

As the name suggests, onshore wind refers to turbines that are built on land. We’ve got 28 wind parks across Britain, that have been built or are in the approval and planning stage. We’ve been able to build these with the support of our customers, using the money from their energy bills.

But thanks to our government, it’s much harder to get approval for onshore wind farms. There’s far less funding available for onshore wind energy than there is for fracking and fossil fuels, and more support is needed at local government level.

How is wind energy generated in the UK?

We generate wind energy in the UK through the use of wind turbines. The huge blades catch the wind and the rotational energy is then converted into electricity, that’s put back into the national grid.

The UK is the windiest place in Europe, so we’ve got plenty of the stuff to keep our windmills turning. You can find out more about how wind turbines work here.

How much electricity can the wind generate?

According to Renewable UK, the UK’s offshore wind capacity could provide us with as much as a third of our electricity by 2030.

Wind energy is one of the most affordable sources of renewable energy – and if the government were to invest more in onshore wind production, there’s no reason why Britain couldn’t become totally dependent on green energy. 

The majority of the electricity we supply at Ecotricity comes from wind power. You can find out more about our fuel mix here

Can wind energy be stored?

Yes, wind energy can be stored in a variety of ways, but the most common is through battery storage. This means that the electricity generated from the wind can be stored and used when resources are running low – perfect for days when there’s not much wind.

Advantages of wind energy

There are lots of advantages to wind energy, but the main benefits are that it’s:

  • Environmentally friendly. Wind energy doesn’t release any carbon emissions, and the energy payback of wind turbines is between six and nine months – that’s how long it takes to get back the energy used to build and install each turbine. After that, wind turbines can provide clean energy for up to 25 years.
  • Safer than fossil fuels. Fossil fuels don’t just pose a threat to the environment – they come with health risks for us too. Oil spills can pollute water supplies; transporting flammable fuels can be fatal; and CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels causes air pollution. Green electricity made from the wind is safe for everyone.
  • Sustainable. Unlike fossil fuels, the power we can harness from the wind is never going to run out. The resource needed to create green electricity from the wind will continually replenish, making it an endless resource.

Disadvantages of wind energy

Wind energy isn’t completely without disadvantages – but the positive impact it has on the environment, along with public health, far outweighs the small risks that it brings:

  • Noise. While wind turbines do make some noise as the blades turn, it’s minimal and modern turbines make far less noise than older models. Wind turbines also have to be placed a minimum distance away from residential properties to minimise their impact – you can find out more here.
  • Impact on wildlife. There have been lots of studies carried out to assess the impact of wind turbines on wildlife – and the danger to animals has been found to be minimal. Compared to the environmental impact of fossil fuel energy like fracking, windmills have very little effect on wildlife and their habitats.
  • Limited government support. One of the biggest problems currently facing wind energy production is that the government doesn’t provide substantial backing. Support for offshore wind has improved, but onshore production doesn’t receive financial or local council support – which makes it hugely challenging to build the infrastructure needed to make Britain self-sufficient.

To find out more about Ecotricity’s wind energy generation and the future of wind energy in Britain, take a look at our wind parks page.

Reasons to switch

Henry David Thoreau

"First, there is the power of the wind, constantly exerted over the globe… Here is an almost incalculable power at our disposal, yet how trifling the use we make of it."

Henry David Thoreau, 1843