Wind Energy Basics

Wind projects vary in size, from small projects of one to a few turbines (known as "behind the meter" or "distributed wind systems") serving individual customers, to large projects ("commercial," "utility-scale," or "wind farms") designed to provide wholesale electricity to utilities or an electricity market. Wind energy projects may be on land or off-shore. This handbook focuses on land-based commercial-scale wind projects. These wind projects are generally owned and operated by independent power producers, which traditionally sell their power to electric utilities. Individual wind turbines are connected to one another and to a substation via an electrical collection system and then, in turn, connected to the electrical transmission system. Commercial-scale wind projects range in generating capacity from 5 megawatts (MW) to several hundred MW and can consist of a few to hundreds of wind turbines.

This handbook focuses on land-based, commercial-scale wind projects. Distributed wind projects, such as the Hull Wind Project in Hull, Massachusetts, are not specifically discussed in this handbook, although regulatory and environmental considerations for larger projects are relevant on a smaller scale for distributed wind projects.

Wind farm in Mojave, California. Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Power Systems America and AWEA.
Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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