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Different Types of Wind Farms and Wind Turbines

Different Types of Wind Farms and Wind Turbines

As the globe strides towards a more sustainable future, wind energy emerges as a leading knight in the battle against climate change. Its popularity is not just a trend; it's a necessity. Wind energy represents a clean, renewable source that can significantly contribute to powering our electricity grid. But what does this mean for property owners and real estate agents?


Wind Farms: Onshore vs Offshore

Wind farms can be classified into two broad categories: onshore (land-based) and offshore.  Onshore wind farms are situated on land, usually in rural areas with good wind resources. Offshore wind farms, on the other hand, are located in bodies of water such as lakes or oceans. Both types have their unique advantages and challenges.


Onshore Wind Farms

Onshore wind farms, commonly regarded as the iconic symbols of the renewable energy revolution, are strategically located on land in areas where the wind blows consistently. These majestic structures, standing tall and harnessing the power of the wind, mark a significant step towards a sustainable future.


The Department of Energy, recognizing its efficiency and convenient connection to the power grid, actively supports the development of various land-based wind projects across the United States. Through these initiatives, we are paving the way for a greener and more environmentally conscious world.


Benefits

  • Easier access for construction and maintenance

  • Lower foundation costs than offshore setups

  • Favors land owners when leasing their land for development

Drawbacks

  • Potential land use conflicts

  • Can be considered visual or noise pollution by local communities


Offshore Wind Farms

Offshore wind farms, on the other hand, are strategically constructed over bodies of water, harnessing the immense power of the wind in these expansive aquatic environments. Wind farms are more expensive to install. 


However, they have the advantage of always having strong and unobstructed wind. This allows them to convert more kinetic energy into electricity. This remarkable feature not only enhances the overall efficiency of offshore wind farms but also contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy generation solution.


Benefits

  • Stronger and more consistent winds

  • Reduced noise and visual impact on communities

Drawbacks

  • Higher installation and maintenance costs

  • Complex logistics and harsher environmental conditions for equipment


Types of Wind Turbines

Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs)

The image of towering turbine columns with large, spinning blades typically illustrates the Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs). These turbines, known for their iconic design, are by far the most common type of turbines used on both small wind farms and utility-scale wind turbines. 


The HAWTs harness the power of the wind and convert it into electricity through their rotating blades, which are carefully engineered to optimize energy production. Whether dotting the landscape in small wind farms or standing majestically in utility-scale installations, these turbines play a crucial role in harnessing renewable energy and contributing to a sustainable future.


Design and Functionality

  • Blades rotate around a horizontal axis

  • Typically, three blades capture wind kinetic energy and transform it into electricity

Pros and Cons

  • Efficient and widely tested technology

  • Can be scaled to large sizes and generate significant power for the electricity grid

  • The visible portion can be construed as aesthetically disruptive

  • Potentially hazardous to birds and bats


Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs)

VAWTs are less common than HAWTs but offer unique advantages in certain circumstances. Unlike HAWTs, VAWTs have their main rotor shaft positioned vertically and work regardless of the wind direction. This key distinction eliminates the need for complex yaw mechanisms that allow HAWTs to rotate 360 degrees to face the wind. 


VAWTs can be more compact and less visually intrusive than HAWTs, making them an appealing option for urban areas. However, VAWTs generally have lower energy output and require a larger footprint to generate the same amount of electricity as HAWTs.


Design and Functionality

  • Blades rotate around a vertical axis

  • Less sensitive to wind direction

Pros and Cons

  • Suited for locations with variable wind directions

  • Can be installed closer to the ground, reducing visual prominence and potentially impacting fewer birds

  • Generally less efficient than HAWTs

  • Less developed and standardized


Factors to Consider for Wind Farm Installation

Before cashing in on the wind, property owners and real estate agents must consider several factors:

  • Wind Resource Assessment: It's crucial to examine the historical and predicted wind speeds and directions. A thorough wind resource assessment will determine the feasibility and efficiency of a wind farm on a specific site.

  • Proximity to Power Grid: Installing a wind farm in close proximity to a power grid can significantly reduce transmission costs, making it financially feasible.

  • Land Requirements and Restrictions: One must account for zoning laws and whether the land is suitable for installing wind turbines without interfering with local habitats.

  • Environmental Impact: A comprehensive assessment to mitigate any negative consequences on local wildlife and ecosystems. Potential environmental impacts from noise pollution, visual disruption, and wildlife conservation must be considered and mitigated.

  • Community Acceptance: Local communities may have concerns regarding the visual and noise impact of wind turbines. Educating and addressing these concerns can lead to smoother acceptance.


The march of wind energy continues unimpeded, its momentum driven by innovation and necessity. For property owners and real estate agents, understanding the intricacies of wind farms and turbines is essential. It could mean adding value to properties or opening new revenue streams. Moreover, it's about participating in the grander scheme of sustainable development and energy security.




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