The environment is now paying the price for our lack of care and consideration. Greenhouse gases are causing significant problems such as an increase in temperatures and melting ice caps3. Since the industrial revolution, there has been an increase in the temperature of the earth of around 1.2 degrees (frisken)6. As a result, we are now attempting to move away from non-renewable energy sources. And in doing so seeking the advantages of the different types of renewable energy. This has seen an increase in the adoption of wind energy with almost 350,000 wind turbines now installed across the world. So, where can we find the 10 biggest wind farms in the world?
The Jiuquan Wind Power Base, China, generates power through 7,000 turbines. This makes this the largest wind farm in the world. At peak capacity, this wind farm has the ability to generate an impressive 20 GW.
Despite its potential, the wind farm is only using 40% of the power that it generates. This has been put down to weak demand and its geographical location. Its location in the Gopi desert means that it is very isolated. As a result, it is not possible to transmit the power to areas with dense populations.
In order to begin using more of the power it generates, the State Grid Corporation of China is seeking a solution. Currently, they are developing a 750 KW high-voltage direct current transmission line. This will make it possible to reach areas of high population and use the clean energy that this farm generates4. The farm cost $17.5 billion and will have the capacity to provide power for more than one million homes.
As with many other technologies, China is doing all it can to lead from the front. Currently, there are more than 92,000 wind turbines in operation throughout the country. Collectively, these generate a total of 145 GW of clean energy. This is more than the capacity of all of the wind farms in the US.
In fact, China is adding more turbines at a rapid pace. As it currently stands, they are installing them at a rate of more than one per hour. And in doing so working towards realizing the advantages of wind energy.
The Muppandal Wind Farm benefits from a prime location in the Kanyakumari District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
This barren area of land is susceptible to high-pressure winds, making it the largest producer of clean energy from wind in India8. The plant was built by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency and has the ability to generate 1,500 MW of clean energy.
The plant consists of a total of 3,000 wind turbines. The farm is helping to drive down CO2 emissions in India, as it has been recognized as the 3rd highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
Covering 3,200 acres in the Californian desert9, this is one of the largest farms in the world.
Currently, it has the capacity to generate 1,547 MW of clean energy. The cost of construction was $2,875 billion with Terra-Gen Power taking on the work.
Commissioning took place in 2010 and over the course of seven phases, the plant reached completion. It now has 490 wind turbines, all of which help to supply energy to Southern California Edison.
The USA has a renewable energy target of 20% which it plans to meet by 2020. Alta Wind Energy Centre is certainly contributing. As it stands, it is helping to prevent more than 5.2 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. That is the equivalent of a reduction of 446,000 cars on the road.
This farm is the second largest onshore wind farm in India. What makes this wind park unique is that it consists of several wind farms. These farms are known as Amarsagar Badabaug, Tejuva, and Soda Moda as well as several others. Collectively, they generate 1064 MW of clean energy1.
Construction of the park took place over 12 phases and it took ten years to complete. The owner of the plant is Suzlon Energy and it has been in operation since 2001.
India has a green target to meet whereby it generates 175 GW of clean green energy by 2022. As it currently stands, it generates 75GW and so, Jaisalmer Wind Park is playing a significant role in contributing to meeting this target2.
Covering an area of more than 30 square miles, the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm generates 845 MW of clean energy.
The farm was developed by Caithness Energy in 2010 and is located in Arlington, East Oregon. This was the first wind farm project that the company had ever undertaken. It also happened to be the only one.
It went into operation in 2012. Using a total of 338 turbines it has the ability to provide energy to 240,000 homes. Along with this, it will also prevent one million metric tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.
The project benefited from a US Department of Energy loan of $1.3 billion with a final estimated cost of $2.9 billion.
The Roscoe Wind Farm location is in Roscoe, Texas. At one point in the history of wind energy, this was the largest wind farm in the world.
Covering an area of 100,000 acres, it has the ability to generate 781.5 MW of energy. Using 634 turbines, it can power more than 250,000 homes. However, it will also help to reduce CO2 emissions by 375,000 tons on an annual basis.
Construction of the plant took place over four phases with work being carried out by E.On Climate and Renewables. The overall cost of the project is around $1 billion.
This plant is helping Texas as a state to reduce its reliance on energy from fossil fuels. As a result, it helps provide electricity for up to a quarter of a million of the state's homes.
The first phase of Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centre began in 2005. Now consisting of a further two phases, the farm has the ability to generate 735.5 MW of energy. It covers an area of around 60,000 acres in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas.
The plant is owned by NextEra, however, all construction work, engineering work, and procurement was undertaken by Blattner Energy.
The plant uses 421 turbines to generate enough energy to meet the demands of 180,000 homes.
Yet another wind farm in Texas, the Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm is located in Sterling and Coke Counties.
The plant is owned by NextEra Energy Resources and was established in 2007. The farm was constructed over two phases with 407 turbines installed at completion.
The plant has the ability to generate 662.5 MW of energy5 which is enough to power 220,000 homes. It is also displacing more than 952,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year. This is the equivalent of removing 186,000 cars from the road.
The plant has also received significant investment from JPMorgan Chase, totaling $225 million.
The Walney Extension Offshore Windfarm is the largest offshore wind farm in the world. To gain an understanding of its size, it covers 145km² which is the equivalent of 20,000 football pitches.
Its location in the Irish Sea takes advantage of perfect conditions for wind energy, generating 659 MW of power. Currently, it has the ability to provide enough power for 600,000 homes using 189 turbines. The turbines stand at a height of 195m making them taller than Blackpool Tower, the London Eye, and the BT Tower.
The plant is owned by Orsted with construction beginning in 2015 and the cost of the work reaching £1 billion. The farm went into operation in September 2018.
The London Array Offshore Windfarm is owned by E.ON, Orsted, and Masdar. It covers an area of 100km² off the coast of Kent, United Kingdom, and has the ability to generate 630 MW of power. Using 175 wind turbines, it can generate enough power for 500,00 homes. Located a short distance from the Thames Estuary, it is a leader in offshore wind.
Offshore construction started in 2011 with the final turbine installed in 2012. The project took place over two phases and cost a total of $3 billion.
As part of the UK's drive to reduce greenhouse gases, the plant reduces emissions by 925,000 tons each year.
Wind power has serious potential and the 10 biggest wind farms are clear proof. As it currently stands, wind power is preventing almost 650 million tons of Co2 from entering the atmosphere.
This is progress and proves just how prominent wind power can be in harnessing change7.
The wind industry is also growing. By 2020, the European Union estimates that 520,000 people will be working in the industry. Forecasts suggest this figure will rise to 600,000 by 2050. By this point, wind power will prevent 12.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.
If we thought that wind power was not a serious potential replacement or alternative to fossil fuels, then now is the time to think again.
|Technology Acquisition and Innovation in the Developing World: Wind Turbine Development in China and India, Lewis, J.I. St Comp Int Dev (2007) 42: 208. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12116-007-9012-6|
|Swarnalakshmi Umamaheswaran, Seth Rajiv, Financing large scale wind and solar projects—A review of emerging experiences in the Indian context, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 48, 2015, Pages 166-177, ISSN 1364-0321, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2015.02.054.|
|A Comparison of the Contribution of Various Gases to the Greenhouse Effect, Henning Rodhe, Science 08 Jun 1990, Vol. 248, Issue 4960, pp. 1217-1219, DOI: 10.1126/science.248.4960.1217|
|Yingqi Liu, Ari Kokko, Wind power in China: Policy and development challenges, Energy Policy, Volume 38, Issue 10, 2010, Pages 5520-5529, ISSN 0301-4215, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2010.04.050.|
|Kaffine, D., McBee, B., & Lieskovsky, J. (2013). Emissions Savings from Wind Power Generation in Texas. The Energy Journal, 34(1), 155-175. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41969215|
|Frisken, W. R. ( 1971). Extended industrial revolution and climate change. Eos Trans. AGU, 52( 7). 500– 508, doi:10.1029/EO052i007p00500.|
|Park, J., & Schwind, D. Wind power for farms, homes, and small industry. United States. doi:10.2172/6496284.|
|Atul Sharma, Jaya Srivastava, Sanjay Kumar Kar, Anil Kumar, Wind energy status in India: A short review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 16, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 1157-1164, ISSN 1364-0321, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2011.11.018|
|Alexi Clarke, Wind energy progress and potential, Energy Policy, Volume 19, Issue 8, 1991, Pages 742-755, ISSN 0301-4215, https://doi.org/10.1016/0301-4215(91)90044-O.|