Wind power. The ultimate renewable energy source?
Wind energy 101
Plentiful, sustainable and renewable, wind energy is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. We explain how wind power works, explore wind power’s benefits and challenges, and discover how Australia is embracing this natural resource.
What is wind power?
Wind is a renewable and accessible global energy source. The blades of wind turbines and windmills capture power from the wind within the area swept by their blades, using it to spin an electric generator, which converts it into electricity.
What makes wind energy renewable?
Wind is generated from the heat of the sun and isn’t ‘used up’ after it has blown past a turbine. It continues to blow around the world and can be used again and again, making it a renewable source of energy. Wind power is also sustainable as it doesn’t release carbon emissions as a by-product.
Wind power around the world
According to the Global Wind Energy Council wind energy could make up 20% of global electricity production by 2030. Today, it’s sitting at around 4 to 5% – making wind energy the second largest renewable energy source for power generation after hydropower.
Excitingly, wind power production could create 2.4 million new jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 3.3 billion tons per year.
How Australia is embracing wind energy
For many decades, Australians have been harnessing the power of wind, with windmills used in rural areas Australia-wide to pump bore or river water for various uses on farms.
As technology has advanced, wind farms in Australia have become increasingly sophisticated. According to the Clean Energy Council, in 2019 wind overtook hydro as Australia's leading source of clean energy for the first time, supplying more than 35% of the country's clean energy and more than 9% of Australia's overall electricity.
As part of its mission to lead the way in the transition to a zero-carbon economy, our global parent company ENGIE is investing heavily in wind power generation in Australia, including two wind farms in South Australia:
- The Willogoleche Wind Farm’s 32 turbines have a combined generation capacity of 119MW, giving Willogoleche the capability of powering 80,000 homes across the state.
- The Canunda Wind Farm is capable of powering 30,000 homes and can produce electricity 34% of the time – a very high wind yield in comparison to global standards. The energy from the Canunda Wind Farm is also used to offset Simply Energy’s activities used to supply energy to you – part of the way our new energy plans achieve carbon neutral status.
The pros and cons of wind energy
In the online resource How does a wind turbine work?, ENGIE breaks down the benefits and challenges of wind power.
Pros of wind power:
- Wind is a free, renewable, inexhaustible, and locally available resource.
- It’s a clean, cost effective fuel source – according to the Clean Energy Council, wind power is currently the cheapest source of large-scale renewable energy.
- Wind farms can be built onshore (i.e. inland on existing farms) and offshore (i.e. out in the ocean).
- Wind turbines are quiet. They sound like a fridge if you’re standing 50 metres away.
Cons of wind energy:
- The windiest spots are sometimes in remote locations, far from where the power is needed and far from the transmission network.
- Wind is an intermittent resource (not constant), so electricity from wind power needs to be able to be stored for future use.
With the benefits far outweighing the challenges and technology advancing rapidly, we’re excited about the future of this clean, limitless, and economical energy resource.
Energy efficiency programs and initiatives
Backed by ENGIE, Simply Energy is proud of our lower-carbon energy initiatives, which include:
- Carbon-neutral energy provided on all new Simply Energy plans, it’s not an option, add-on or app you’ll need to activate.
- Our solar energy plans and programs that help you ‘power up’ the value of solar energy.
- Our virtual power plant (VPP) programs now being rolled out across Australia that reward you for helping take care of the community and environment by supporting the grid.
Learn more about how Simply Energy is providing future-focused power today here.
References and further reading