The best places for wind farms are in coastal
areas, at the tops of rounded hills, open plains and gaps in mountains
- places where the wind is strong and reliable. Some are offshore.
To be worthwhile, you need an average wind
speed of around 25 km/h. Most wind farms in the UK are in Cornwall
or Wales.Isolated places such as farms may have their
own wind generators.
In California, several "wind farms" supply
electricity to homes around Los Angeles.
The propellors are large, to extract energy
from the largest possible volume of air. The blades can be angled to "fine"
or "coarse" pitch, to cope with varying wind speeds, and the
generator and propellor can turn to face the wind wherever it comes from.
Some designs use vertical turbines, which don't need to be turned to face
The towers are tall, to get the propellors
as high as possible, up to where the wind is stronger. This means that
the land beneath can still be used for farming.
Wind is free, wind farms need no fuel.
Produces no waste or greenhouse gases.
The land beneath can usually still be used for
Wind farms can be tourist attractions.
A good method of supplying energy to remote areas.
The wind is not always predictable - some
days have no wind.
Suitable areas for wind farms are often near the
coast, where land is expensive.
Some people feel that covering the landscape with
these towers is unsightly.
Can kill birds - migrating flocks tend to like
However, this is rare, and we tend not to build wind farms on
migratory routes anyway.
Can affect television reception if you live nearby.
Can be noisy. Wind generators have a reputation
for making a constant, low, "swooshing" noise day and
night, which can drive you nuts.
Having said that, as aerodynamic designs have improved modern
wind farms are much quieter. A lot quieter than, say,
a fossil fuel power station; and wind farms tend not to be close
to residential areas anyway. The small modern wind generators
used on boats and caravans make hardly any sound at all.
See the graphic on the right, from December 2001. In this example,
at the distance the turbine is from houses, it makes less noise
than your fridge.-->