Onshore wind—technology
Produced in partnership with WSP Environmental
Onshore wind—technology

The following Energy practice note produced in partnership with WSP Environmental provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Onshore wind—technology
  • What is onshore wind?
  • Wind turbines components
  • Technical characteristics
  • How they work
  • Where they work
  • Feasibility criteria
  • Key conditions for development
  • Economics and costs
  • More...

Onshore wind—technology

What is onshore wind?

Onshore wind refers to wind turbines that are installed in land. Wind turbines harness the energy of moving air (wind) to produce electricity.

Wind turbines components

Wind turbines have blades which rotate around a hub (nacelle) at the top of a steel tower.

Typically they have three blades with rotation around an horizontal axis. Sometimes they are configured with two blades, but these tend to be of a smaller scale.

Horizontal axis wind turbines dominate the majority of the wind industry; these produce more electricity from a given amount of wind but perform less efficiently under turbulent wind conditions.

Figure 1—example of horizontal axis turbines (source: WSP)

Vertical axis designs have the advantage of rotational symmetry that allows being powered by the wind from all 360 degrees.

The tower (or mast) is another essential part of a wind turbine system. The power output increases with the height of the turbine bringing the blades where air flows is stronger, and more reliable. In addition, the amount of turbulent air hitting the wind turbine is lower, reducing the risks part deterioration and therefore maintenance costs.

The rotor diameter, and therefore the area of disc covered by the rotor, determines how much energy can be harvested by the turbine at a certain wind speed. A typical wind turbine with a 500kW electrical generator will normally have a rotor

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