As early as 4,000 years ago, the Carthaginians knew how to use wind power effectively. They used the wind to power their impressive fleet of sailing ships, becoming the most dangerous enemies of Rome.
Centuries later, wind power was put to use for peaceful purposes – but it was no less effective: the first windmills were built to grind grain, pump water or saw wood. So using the wind as a source of energy is by no means new.
What is new is its importance as an unlimited source of energy for power generation. Today, wind power is the star among renewables and the driving force of the switch to renewable energy sources.
Higher! Bigger! Stronger!
The rapid technological development of wind power technology in recent decades was the forerunner for the economic success of modern wind farms.
The first generation of wind turbines in the 70s had a generating capacity of 30 kilowatts. In the 80s it was 150 kilowatts, while 300 kilowatts was already the standard in the 90s.
Today’s onshore turbines generate 3,000 kilowatts (3 MW).
In practical terms, in 1980 a turbine supplied around 10 households – now it can supply more than 5,000. In fact, state-of-the-art turbines now have a generating capacity of 7,500 kilowatts (7.5 MW). The rotor blade diameter is 127 metres, and with an overall height of around 200 metres, the wind power plants are taller than Cologne Cathedral!
innogy built twelve of these giants in the Zuidwester onshore wind farm on the dyke of the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. They replaced 50 wind turbines from the 90s. This replacement of old wind turbine technology with more powerful modern equipment is known in the industry as repowering. As a result, many times more clean wind power can be generated from the same area, with significantly fewer turbines.
Higher efficiency through innovation
Today’s wind turbines are not only much larger and more powerful than their predecessors – they are also more intelligent. For example, modern onshore wind turbines can adjust to the wind conditions. Special turbines are designed for low wind. Servomotors in the gondola direct the rotor in line with the wind direction and adjust the blades depending on the wind strength.
Gearless wind turbines are another new development. Using this drive form can reduce costs and maintenance requirements. The blades in these turbines have a slight spiral shape. This enables the wind to be directed to the hub and better utilised. Another advantage of this special design is its low-noise operation.
Compared to older plants, today’s plants are also more reliable and have less down time.
The Research & Development team at innogy is driving this development further. Its development engineers are researching how wind farms can be optimised in future.
Mastering the transformation of the energy industry in partnership
The experts from innogy have been working in the field of onshore wind for over 20 years. innogy currently operates onshore wind farms in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Italy. innogy is one of the major onshore operators in Europe. We focus on the continued expansion of our activities.
Together with local partners, innogy plans to continue to grow while driving the transformation of the energy industry. The Königshovener Höhe wind farm, which innogy operates together with the city of Bedburg, is an excellent example of how this can work in practice.
The onshore wind farm was built on a reclaimed area of the Garzweiler opencast mine. 21 wind turbines were built here within two years, with a total capacity of 67,000 kilowatts (67 megawatts).
Creating wind power success stories together
Our goal is the rapid expansion of renewables in Germany, through our own work and collaboration with our partners. This is how we can manage the transformation of the energy industry together. As a Wind Scout at innogy, Gerhild Patten is constantly on the lookout for good locations for new wind farms. Property owners can have their sites checked by innogy to assess their suitability for a wind project. As a first step, experienced Wind Scouts analyse factors such as wind velocities and distances from residential buildings. If the assessment is positive, the project is developed jointly, as equal partners.
Into the future
The implementation of wind farm projects is closely related to other innovations and research projects driven by innogy. One future project is the search for cost-effective energy storage options. innogy is currently researching efficient ways to store wind and solar energy.
This will ensure a steady supply of energy even when there is no sun or wind.