We have been harnessing the power of the wind for hundreds of years as it is a clean natural force that doesn’t have a cost. Wind was essential for early travel as boats used sails to catch the moving air to propel them forward. Traditional windmills captured the wind to mill grains into flour to make bread. Wind is even used to make kites fly! In recent years technology has advanced so much and the power of the wind can now be used to generate electricity through wind turbines, just like the ones at Whitelee Windfarm.
How much electricity does Whitelee Windfarm generate?
In total, Whitelee Windfarm’s 215 turbines are capable of generating up to 539 megawatts of electricity, enough to power just under 300,000 homes*. Across the windfarm we have three different turbine types. We have 140 turbines each generating up to 2.3 megawatts, 69 turbines generating up to 3 megawatts and 6 turbines generating up to 1.67 megawatts.
*298,837 homes per year based on the expected average capacity factor of 27% and an average annual domestic electricity usage of 4,266kWh
How long has Whitelee been generating electricity?
In 2009, Whitelee Windfarm’s original 140 turbines became fully operational. In 2013 they were joined by an additional 75 turbines as an extension to the site also became operational.
What are wind turbines made of?
The wind turbines have lots of different parts made from lots of different materials. The tower, nacelle and nose hub are primarily made of steel. This makes sure it is strong enough to hold the blades and withstand the power of the wind. The blades are made of fibre glass and wood which makes them flexible but extremely tough. The blades weigh around 12 tonnes each.
How tall are the turbines?
At Whitelee Windfarm we have three different types of turbines, each are different heights. We measure the height from the base of the turbine to the tip of the blade at its highest point. We have 140 Siemens turbines that stand 110 metres tall, 69 Alstom turbines that stand 140 metres tall and 6 Alstom turbines that stand 110 metres tall.
How do turbines make electricity?
The turbines at Whitelee work like a fan in reverse. A traditional fan uses electricity to make the air move but turbines capture the wind to make electricity.
The three blades are specially designed to that ensures the wind can push them round. The moving blades are connected to a generator and when the generator turns it creates electricity.
How strong does the wind have to blow for the turbines to work?
The turbines need very little wind to start working – as slow as nine miles per hour.
What happens when it gets really windy?
Although turbines need wind to generate electricity, too much wind could cause extra stress on the blades and risk them becoming damaged. When it gets too windy for the turbines the blades change position so they don’t fully catch the wind and the turbines can even use their brakes to stop the blades from spinning.
What happenes when the wind doesn’t blow?
When the wind doesn’t blow the turbines don’t turn, but Whitelee was chosen after lots of investigating to ensure that it will be windy and that the turbines will turn more often than not.
How much space do turbines require?
The windfarm takes up very little space, in fact the turbines at Whitelee use less than five percent of the total land. The turbines are positioned in rows to make sure they get the maximum benefit of the wind. In each row the turbines are spaced five times their height apart. There is also a distance of three times the turbine’s height between the rows.
How long do turbines last for?
Turbines are typically operational for 20 years. However, after they have been decommissioned their parts can be recycled and used on other windfarms thus prolonging their life.
Why don’t the turbines have lots of blades?
People have been using the power of the wind for hundreds of years and during this time lots of different turbine designs have been tested. Scientists have discovered that the best turbine design is a tall tower with three blades.
How efficient are the turbines?
Wind turbines are powered by a free naturally produced resource and they are therefore extremely efficient. Once the turbines have been built the cost of making electricity is very small.
Tell me more about the habitat surrounding the wind turbines
Whitelee has been carefully planned and designed to work in harmony with the existing environment and is home to a 25 square kilometre area of habitat management, one of the largest in the UK. Species such as merlin and black grouse can be spotted at Windfarm. For more detailed information about this initiative, please click here
How many wind turbines are there in Scotland and the UK?
In Scotland there are currently more than 2,000 operational turbines, working to generate cleaner greener power. Across the whole of the UK there are more than 4,000 operational turbines. That’s potentially a lot of renewable energy! Click here for more detailed renewable energy statistics