The power of wind has been understood since ancient times. First the wind was harnessed for sails, and later it was discovered that this movement could also be converted into kinetic energy. Thus the first windmills were born, using wind power to turn heavy millstones to grind flour.
Windmills may also have been used to power a pump when water had to be pumped from a slightly deeper level. Today, windmills are mostly used for electricity generation. Wind power has many advantages, as you will find out from this article. In addition, you'll also learn why it is worth considering switching to wind power & what is the current situation in wind power generation in Finland. There are currently a number of electricity companies on the Finnish market from which you can get an electricity contract with 100% wind-generated electricity. Perhaps the best known of these, which focuses solely on wind power is a Finnish company called Ilmatar.
Where does wind power come from?
As already mentioned, the purpose of a wind turbine is to capture wind energy and convert it into motion, which is then used to generate electricity. Like many other renewable electricity generators, wind power uses the law of electromagnetism, i.e. a moving magnet generates an electric current. The same principle is at work in a bicycle dynamo, for example.
In a wind turbine, the rotor rotates a generator, where a moving magnet produces electricity, which is then fed into the grid. Between the rotor itself and the generator is a gearbox that allows the movement of the magnet in the generator to be controlled. The aim is to keep the movement strong and, above all, smooth. The gearbox can also slow down the rotation of the magnet if the wind speed exceeds 80 km/h.
Advantages and disadvantages of wind power
Wind power is one of the cleanest forms of electricity generation. Wind is such a huge resource that it produces 35 times more energy per day than people use in a day. Wind is a completely renewable resource and there are no emissions when a wind turbine is running, making wind power completely renewable and emission-free.
For example, if a modern wind farm is located on a windy coastline, much more energy can be extracted from the wind than from inland areas. The maintenance of such wind turbines is also relatively simple, meaning that the cost of maintaining the turbine is minimal; the wind does almost 100% of the work in converting the wind into electricity.
Opposition to wind farms, especially larger ones, is usually based on perceptions and subjective experiences. Some believe that wind turbines are ugly and spoil the landscape. Wind electricity is perceived as expensive, because traditionally the installation of a wind turbine has required financial support from the state. However, this is an outdated image, as there were more than 300 wind turbines in Finland in 2019 producing electricity without any state subsidies.
Environmental impacts of wind power
The materials used to build a wind turbine are nowadays easily recyclable: steel and fibreglass. Cement consumption is low, which is a good thing in terms of emissions from cement production. Once the mill is up and running, the blades will also last for more than two decades in all weathers, so there is little need to replace them.
Larger wind farms have raised environmental concerns, particularly when they hit the flight path of migratory birds. Birds have not learned to detect a rotating windmill and dozens of birds may die in the event of a collision. For this reason, efforts are being made to avoid building larger wind farms on routes used by migratory birds, especially those that are threatened.
Wind power in Finland and its future
In 2020, the growing number of wind turbines in Finland caused the electricity exchange price to turn negative for the first time ever. The reason for this was a storm raging in the Atlantic, whose winds also reached Finland. More wind power will therefore benefit consumers by keeping electricity prices low.
In the US, for example, electricity companies contract with farmers to erect windmills at the edge of their fields. For many farmers, this is a welcome and stable addition. It is also possible to become a small-scale producer in Finland, but wind turbines have not yet been seen for this purpose. However, falling prices and increasingly positive attitudes may change this over the next ten years.
The outlook for the sector is therefore good, although small-scale production is still to come. However, Finland has a lot of coastline and is quite windy, so wind power is a very cheap investment in domestic renewable and emission-free electricity.