Onshore wind power: 6 surprising facts

By ENGIE - 27 June 2022 - 10:51

Onshore wind farms, which produce carbon-free, inexhaustible and safe energy, are flying high. In 10 years, the number of wind turbines has increased by 17% and their production capacity has risen by 200%1. Want to know more?


>> Hey ENGIE, how do wind turbines work? <<


1/ Wind turbines are more than 90% recyclable!

From the foundations to the blades, more than 90% of a wind turbine can be recycled (source FEE). As of 1 January 2024, every end-of-life wind farm will have to recycle 95% of the total weight of its wind turbines1. Today, more than 50% of the blades, which represent about 5% of the total weight, are recycled. In Europe, disposing of wind turbines in landfill has been banned. Dismantled wind turbines are either recycled or reconditioned and installed on new wind farms in Europe. In 2020, a consortium launched the Zebra project that aims to reach a 100% recycling rate. The goal is to produce the first “zero waste” blades that are entirely recyclable, thanks to a new resin. In January 2022, this partnership produced the first 100% recyclable blade. A big step towards integrating wind power even more closely in the circular economy.

2/ Wind turbines can be controlled using data

Darwin is the name of the software that ENGIE uses to control its onshore wind farms. It centralises all the electrical, mechanical and meteorological data from the wind farms using sensors mounted on the wind turbines. This real-time monitoring process keeps track of the performance of the facilities, plans the generation of electricity according to the weather forecasts, identifies failures, so that they can be repaired more easily, etc. Today, it is possible to make forecasts ranging from 24 hours to 10 days. This saves time for the staff and boosts the performance of the equipment and the generation of electricity. Data helps to make more accurate forecasts and to adapt the production of the energy mix, in the event of a drop in production or over-production by the wind farms. 


3/ Onshore wind power is an opportunity for biodiversity

The development of wind power has significantly improved our knowledge of the avifauna and bats in places that had previously not been studied closely from an environmental perspective. This is the result of the multitude of environmental studies that have been made as part of the construction of wind farms. Wind power federates local actors and provides the means to promote biodiversity by acquiring specific scientific knowledge, taking environmental measures or creating natural reserves.


4/ Wind farms produce power 80% of the time 

Wind farms do not need much wind to produce power. A wind of 5 to 6 km/h can be enough. And the stronger the wind, the more power the turbines produce. However, when the wind blows at more than 90 km/h, the wind turbines are stopped for safety reasons. This means that wind turbines produce electricity more than 80% of the time. A gentle source of power!


5/ Local and circular economies benefit from onshore wind power.

From the manufacture of the wind turbines to the dismantling of the wind farms, and with 20 to 30 years of operation between the two, onshore wind power is the renewable energy that emits the least greenhouse gas. The local production of energy provides the population with access to locally-sourced, carbon-free electricity. Wind farms create jobs that cannot be relocated elsewhere (in 2021, a total of 22,600 jobs in France and 330,000 in Europe, in onshore and offshore wind power combined). 


6/ Wind energy is a decentralised energy

The advantage of wind power is that it produces electricity locally, close to the consumers. This reduces the losses that are incurred during the transmission of the electricity. This is a significant saving, when you consider that 2,000 MW, or the equivalent of two nuclear tranches, are lost every day.


1. Source FEE.