Energy nation


Status: Renewable

What is it?

Wind is created by the uneven way the Sun heats the Earth’s atmosphere. Warmer regions in the atmosphere are less dense than surrounding cooler areas. The air in these warm regions rises. The cool air that rushes in to replace it is what we know as wind.

How is it used to generate electricity?

The blades of a wind turbine work in the same way as an aeroplane's wings. When air flows around an aeroplane's wings it creates low pressure above that lifts the aeroplane. Similarly, when air flows around the blades of a wind turbine, it creates low pressure that turns it round. The blades are linked to a generator, and as it rotates it generates electricity.

Where can you find it?

Anywhere it is windy. These tend to be hilly areas or offshore.

Advantages and disadvantages of using wind energy to generate electricity


  • Once the wind turbine is built, running costs are very low
  • It does not produce any carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect
  • The land occupied by a wind farm can still be used for farming
  • Wind is a renewable source so it will not run out
  • Wind farms are safe and easy to build


  • We cannot control when the wind blows. Wind turbines shut down in very strong or very weak winds
  • They can only be built in certain areas. These areas need to be windy places, usually hilly areas or coasts
  • Not everyone likes the appearance of wind farms

How many wind farms are there in the UK?

Over 135 wind farms generating over 1900MW, of which over 20 are greater than 25MW. 

The future

There is huge potential for the development of wind power in the UK. The British Wind Energy Association estimates that wind power could supply 3.3 million homes by 2010 which is about 8% of total demand.