Wind turbines turn kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical power that a generator can turn into electricity. They can be deployed either onshore or offshore. Three factors that determine how much electricity is produced from a wind plant are: the design of the turbine blades, the wind speed and the temperature which alters the density of the air. The predicted performance can be determined by a load factor calculation which is expressed as a percentage of the actual output of a turbine at a specific site compared with its maximum theoretical output. The expected load factor for onshore commercial large-scale onshore turbines averaged 26.94% in 2018. In the UK, onshore wind is the most cost-effective option for electricity.
During their operation, wind turbines emit no greenhouse gases, air pollutants, or micro-particles. They have a small carbon footprint of only 9 gCO2/KWh, which arises mainly from the manufacturing, transportation and installation phases as well as ongoing operational visits. It is estimated that by 2020 onshore wind will have enabled greenhouse gas emissions to reduce by approximately 16 million tonnes.
There are 1,966 operational onshore projects in the UK with an operational capacity of 12.8 GW as of 2019. In 2017 onshore wind produced 9% of the UK’s power needs. The largest UK onshore windfarm, Whitelee, is located just outside central Glasgow. It powers 300,000 homes from 215 turbines generating up to 539 MW of electricity.
Learn more about onshore wind by exploring records published on our Energy Matrix.
For details on the deployment of onshore wind farms read the Energy World analyses.