FAQs

AEE

BASIC INFORMATION

WHAT IS WIND ENERGY?
Wind energy is the energy which derives from the wind. Solar radiation heats the atmosphere in differential fashion and causes the temperature of the air to vary in different areas. Hot air rises which reduces atmospheric pressure on the land surface and cold air lowers to replace it. The final result is the wind.

Air has mass and when it is in motion, it causes kinetic energy which can be transformed into electricity.

HOW IS ENERGY PRODUCED?
Air masses in motion have kinetic energy. The wind generator blades are joined to the rotor of a generator. When pushed by the aerodynamic effect, they make the generator rotor turn and the latter, by way of the powertrain, produces electrical energy.
HOW IS THE ENERGY PRODUCED TRANSMITTED TO THE GRID?
Wind farms evacuate the electricity produced from their transformation centre by way of an electrical line to a distribution substation to which the energy produced is supplied and which gets the energy to the final user (houses, factories…)
CAN ALL THE ENERGY DERIVING FROM THE WIND BE USED?
No. Wind energy only operates with horizontal currents (vertical ones do not have the dynamic energy required for their use) provided that their speed is greater than 3 m/s and less than 25 m/s.
HOW DOES A WIND TURBINE WORK?
The turbine or wind generator transforms the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical or electrical energy for practical uses. The old windmills produced mechanical energy. Modern wind generators produce electricity.
WHAT IS A NACELLE?
This word comes from the gondolas of aerostatic balloons and refers to the element which is situated on the upper part of the tower and on which the blades turn. The nacelle is formed by a metallic structure which serves as a support to the set of elements situated inside it and by fibre glass panels which protect the equipment from adverse climatological conditions.
HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY DOES WIND ENERGY GENERATE IN SPAIN?
Today, wind energy could supply the electricity consumption of 84% of Spanish homes.
WHAT MAKES ONSHORE WIND FARMS DIFFERENT FROM OFFSHORE WIND FARMS?
The main difference lies in the greater technological difficulty for the construction and maintenance of offshore farms, as well as their greater capacity for generating electricity as the wind resource is between 30 and 50% greater in the sea than on land.
IS WIND ENERGY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER RENEWABLE ENERGIES?
The technological maturity of wind energy means that the economic cost differential with regard to conventional technologies is small. This means that the tariffs paid for wind are lower than those of other renewable technologies (except for mini-hydraulic plants). However, it is not only an economic issue; the Spanish wind sector is an industrial “cluster”: in Spain we have everything from the companies that make the screws to those that manage the wind farms in real time with world leading computer systems, as well as the wind generator manufacturers. A value chain which entails 0.31% of Spanish GDP (2018 data) spread amongst 16 regions. In Spain we don’t have any oil fields, but we can regard the wind turbines which are spread throughout Spanish territory serve as our “clean energy wells”.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF ELECTRICITY DEMAND DOES WIND ENERGY COVER?
In 2020, wind power has covered 21.9% of demand, positioning itself for another year as the second source of electricity generation. Definitely, it was the renewable with the greatest presence in the generation structure of the Spanish electricity system. In 2019, wind power covered 20.8% of the peninsular electricity demand, being the third technology in the Spanish electricity system. In 2018 it covered 19% being the second technology. In 2017, wind power returned as the second technology in the Spanish electricity system, covering 18% of the electricity demand in the peninsula.In 2016, wind energy covered 19.3% of the electrical demand in the peninsula and it was the second source of the Spanish electrical system. In 2015 wind energy was the third source of electricity in a whole year with a demand coverage of 19%. In 2014 it was the second source with 20.3% and in 2013 the first when covered 21% of the electrical demand.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INSTALL A WIND FARM?
The maturation period of a wind farm, including the authorization period, is from six to eight years.

ECONOMIC INFORMATION

WHY DOES ELECTRICITY PRICES DECREASE WHEN THE WIND BLOWS?
Wind energy has in its DNA the decrease of electricity price in Spain and in many other countries. The more wind energy that enters the energy system, the more the price decreases, as it displaces more expensive technologies. Therefore, the greater the proportion of wind energy consumed, the less Spaniards pay on their electricity bill. And viceversa.

To better understand the reducing effect of wind energy on electricity prices, click on Wind energy and the price of electricity, where you will find answers to different issues related to wind power generation and its effects on prices.

DOES SPAIN HAVE A DOMINANT POSITION IN WIND ENERGY R&D?
Internationally, Spain was placed as the sixth largest world power in terms of intellectual property generated (patents) as regards the wind energy sector, only behind the US, Germany, Japan or China.
HOW HAS SPAIN BECOME A WORLD REFERENCE IN WIND ENERGY?
Thanks to the right regulatory framework, a firm commitment of Spanish companies for almost two decades and a broad social consensus, an industrial fabric has been created in our country throughout the production chain which generates wealth, employment and its own technology and which has a considerable export capacity. This has placed us at the forefront worldwide and as an example to other countries.
WHAT ADVANCES ARE BEING MADE IN THE TECHNOLOGICAL FIELD?
Progress is being made both in the area of higher unit power wind generators to optimise the impact on the ground as well as in increased efficiency and improvements in integration into the system. There are also lines of research open to solve the problem of energy storage and intelligent network, and those related with the electric car. These lines will allow a greater penetration potential of wind energy.
IS IT TRUE THAT WIND ENERGY GENERATES A LOT OF EMPLOYMENT?
Wind energy provides employment to 30,000 people in Spain. These are quality, very stable work posts.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUSINESS

WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG TO DEVELOP OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY IN SPAIN?
The orography of the Spanish coastline is complicated, there is no continental platform and the waters are very deep, increasing the installation costs. This sets us apart from other countries where offshore wind is enjoying healthy development. In the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Germany, the depth stands at around 20-30 metres, even far removed from the coastline.
WHAT FUTURE AWAITS WIND ENERGY IN THE WORLD?
Everything suggests that wind energy will remain the main commitment to new electrical generation capacity from now until 2030, both in Europe and in many other regions, including the US and China.
WITH THE EMERGENCE OF CHINA AND THE US, ALONG WITH OTHER COUNTRIES, IN WIND ENERGY, WHAT ROLE WILL THE SPANISH WIND ENERGY SECTOR PLAY IN THIS NEW WORLD SCENARIO?
The Spanish wind energy sector must make a major effort in the coming years to remain amongst the frontrunners worldwide and it can achieve this; however, to this end it must continue to develop bearing in mind long-term standards and objectives which lend it stability.

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS COMPARED WITH FOSSIL FUELS?
The technologies which burn fossil fuels generate greenhouse gases which contaminate, exacerbate climate change and affect health and the environment. Wind energy does not generate emissions as its fuel is the strength of the wind: wind energy avoids the emission of 29 million tonnes of CO2 and avoids imports of fossil fuels by 1,819 million euros.
WHAT IMPACT DO WIND FARMS HAVE ON THE BIRDS AND MAMMALS OF THOSE REGIONS WHERE THEY ARE SET UP?
To build a wind farm you need to have a positive environmental impact statement (EIS). You cannot build wind farms in protected areas nor in those with a negative EIS. Environmental impact studies and environmental surveillance plans are increasingly stringent and demanding, thereby ensuring a reduced impact on birds and mammals.
DO WIND TURBINES MAKE NOISE?
Wind generators are not noisy. The evolution of wind technology has made their mechanical noise almost imperceptible. The aerodynamic humming of the blades when they pass in front of the tower is the main sound they produce. What’s more, strict guidelines determine the permitted noise level, to the extent that it is possible to go under a turbine and have a conversation without having to raise your voice. The noise level of a wind generator at 400 metres is 37dBA (between that of a microwave and a fridge). At this distance the humming of the wind generator in operation cannot be told apart from the environment.
ARE WIND TURBINES COMPATIBLE WITH CATTLE?
Wind farms are welcomed by farmers and livestock farmers because their land can still be used for cultivating or breeding herds. Wind generators do not disturb cattle.