About wind energy technologies

Background - 1 July, 2016
Wind power has led the renewable energy revolution. Its impressive growth has created more than a million jobs and made it an affordable, mainstream electricity source. But so much more is possible. There is enough wind on Earth to meet more than twice the world's current energy use with technology we have today. Abundant and free for the taking, wind will be a major part of our clean, safe and secure 100 percent renewable energy future.

Wind is big, wind is affordable

Fast-growing wind power, along with solar, leads the shift away from dirty, polluting fossil fuel generation. Since the late 1990s wind and solar grew faster than any other power plant technology across the world. In Denmark, wind already supplies 100 percent or more of national power needs at certain times.

As a result of this growth, wind's costs have tumbled. Today onshore wind power is the cheapest way to generate electricity in a many markets around the world.  Wind is also generating new industries, and increasing energy security and economic stability.

The future of wind power

Wind power plants are now found in more than 100 countries, with plenty of room for more. Wind speeds and patterns are good enough for today's technology to provide power on all continents of the planet. Offshore wind is an important frontier, where stronger and more persistent winds allow us to harness still more clean energy.

Wind will supply roughly one third of the power in a 100 percent renewable energy future, according to Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution analysis. There are already more than one million wind industry jobs, but their number could grow to more than 7.8 million by 2030 — twice the number of people working in oil and gas today.

New machines to catch the wind

As we keep adapting wind technology to our needs and goals, wind turbines have gotten bigger. A single machine can be as small as 100 kilowatts, or 70 times larger at a colossal 7 megawatts.  While small wind turbines power homes, telecommunications or water pumps, larger turbines are used in wind parks, both onshore and offshore.

New designs have taken shape. You are probably familiar with the three-blade turbine on a horizontal axis, the most common type. Other designs being developed and trialled include vertical axis wind turbines, floating turbines, and even bladeless wind turbines.  Modern wind turbines work in both high and low wind speeds, and in a variety of climates.

Wind's growth boosted by people power

Wind, like solar, is being energised by a growing people power movement.

In some countries, government funding helps people install small wind turbines on houses, schools and other buildings. In developing countries, small wind turbines are a great way to provide power to communities not yet connected to the grid.

Community wind farms are increasingly popular. Some communities build their own wind projects as local response to climate change. In Danish communities, to help meet the country's ambitious wind targets, local residents must be given the chance to buy a portion of a local wind project's shares from its developers.

What is Greenpeace doing?

Wind energy is winning, but we need it to move faster! Around the world, Greenpeace is campaigning to accelerate the leap to our bright new future of wind and other renewable sources. In China, for example, we’re working to ensure wind turbines connected to the grid are not turned off and their clean power wasted by schemes to keep polluting coal plants profitable.  

Our Energy [R]evolution analysis shows this 100 percent renewable energy future is possible all we need is the political will to make sure it happens.

What can you do?

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