Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into electricity, using wind turbines. Although wind produces only about 1% of world-wide electricity use, it is growing rapidly, increasing more than fivefold globally between 2000 and 2007. In several countries it has achieved relatively high levels of penetration, accounting for approximately 19% of electricity production in Denmark, 9% in Spain and Portugal, and 6% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland in 2007.
Global wind power capacity grew by 29 percent in 2008 to reach 121 gigawatts, or more than double the capacity in place at the end of 2005.
China's total wind power capacity doubled in 2008 for the fifth year running.
Wind energy has historically been used directly to propel sailing ships or converted into mechanical energy for pumping water or grinding grain, but the principal application of wind power today is the generation of electricity. Large scale wind farms are typically connected to the local electric power transmission network, with smaller turbines being used to provide electricity to isolated locations.
Wind energy as a power source is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean energy, and produces low greenhouse gas emissions.
Offshore Wind Farms
As of 2008, Europe leads the world in development of offshore wind power, due to strong wind resources and shallow water in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, and limitations on suitable locations on land due to dense populations and existing developments.
Denmark installed the first offshore wind farms, and for years was the world leader in offshore wind power until the United Kingdom gained the lead in October, 2008 with 590 MW of nameplate capacity installed.
Countries such as the US and China have focused on developing onshore wind capabilities where construction costs are far lower.
Small wind is also experiencing huge growth as more and more of us are looking for off grid sustainable power supplies.
Jobs in Wind Power
The wind industry employs both professional and skilled workers in a number of different capacities. New wind projects require people with business, meteorological, and engineering experience to plan and build projects. Meteorologists help engineers identify appropriate sites with suitable wind conditions. Engineers then design the wind farm, working with the utility companies and local communities. Construction workers are needed to build the wind farm. And mechanical and electrical engineers are required to operate and maintain the wind turbines.
Both industry and research laboratories constantly try to improve the design and efficiency of wind turbines. These research and development (R&D) groups generally employ mechanical, electrical, and aeronautical engineers with advanced degrees, as well as experienced technicians. However, others with technical backgrounds may also find wind jobs.
Research published this year by Clean Edge forcasts growth from 600,000 people employed by in solar and wind jobs in 2008 to a possible 2.65m in employed by 2018.
What’s more, AWEA estimates that growth in the sector created 35,000 new wind jobs during 2008, increasing the total employment in the sector in the US to 85,000 up from 50,000 in 2007.
A new study published in 2009 by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) revealed that the wind energy sector alone now employs more than 150,000 people across Europe, with new job prospects in wind emerging all the time. This is more than twice the number employed in 2002, the last time a survey was conducted, and represents an annual increase of more than 12,000 wind jobs a year.
The study also estimates that other European countries also have significant numbers of professionals employed directly in wind:
European League Table
- Germany = 38,000 wind jobs
- Denmark = 23,500 wind jobs
- Spain = 20,800 wind jobs
- France = 7,000 wind jobs
- UK = 4,000 wind jobs
- Italy = 2,500 wind jobs
- Greece = 1,800 wind jobs
- Ireland = 1,500 wind jobs
- Portugal = 800 wind jobs
- Poland - Unknown
The number of opportunities in wind around the world increasing fast!