Wind Turbine FAQ

Curious about wind energy? We address key questions about the lifecycle of wind turbines, their integration with farming practices, advancements in technology, and the role of renewables in meeting energy demands.

Does it take more energy to build a turbine than the energy it produces? 

A wind turbine can offset the emissions generated from its manufacturing, construction and operations within the first year of it producing electricity.  


When you compare the emissions produced in the production of a turbine, to the emissions saved during its operational life, it is clear that wind turbines have an overall positive impact. In fact, wind turbines have a far-reaching positive impact over their 30-year operational lifespan.



    Emission Offsets

    A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing examined the comparative lifecycle assessment of 2.0 MW wind turbines. When accounting for manufacturing, transport, installation and maintenance and decommissioning, the study found the energy payback period for the turbines to be between five and seven months over their 20-year lifecycle.

    Energy Production

    After a turbine has offset the emissions produced in its manufacture, it can produce enough clean energy to supply the electricity required to power some 4,000 homes each year. This is calculated by dividing 2,500 production hours equivalent each year by the average household consumption per year of 4,000 kWh.

    Some studies on the net energy return for wind power systems found that over the operational life of a wind turbine it would produce 20 times more energy than it took to create. This puts wind in a favourable position relative to fossil fuels and nuclear in terms of Energy Return on Investment.

    Innovating for a Better Future

    As advancements in technologies and innovation continue to improve the efficiency of turbines, it can be expected that the energy returns will become greater. These advancements will further minimise the carbon footprint of a turbine and accelerate how quickly a turbine can offset the emissions from its manufacture, transport and construction.

    How does livestock interact with wind farms? 

    Many landowners who have hosted turbines on their properties have not only found that there is no negative impacts on livestock, but in fact there are many benefits.  


      Compatibility with Agricultural Processes 

      Wind farms are very compatible with livestock grazing and other agricultural practices. ACIONA Energia work with farmers all around Australia who successfully continue their sheep, cattle and other grazing activities around wind turbines installed on their land. During the construction phase, ACCIONA Energia coordinates with landowners to move livestock away from live construction activities. Once the turbines are operational, livestock adjust quickly and have been seen rubbing up against turbines and using them for shade on hot days.   


      Site Selection  

      As part of ACCIONA Energia's site selection process, we examine existing land uses and to ensure that the proposed project will be compatible with land zoning and will not interfere with existing agricultural practises. This careful planning ensures that wind turbines can be integrated seamlessly into farming operations.  

      How much have turbines changed over the years? 

      On first look, the difference between turbines over the years may not be noticeable, however, as technologies advance, turbines become more and more efficient. New materials, and smart technologies (such as real-time wind monitoring) mean that the turbines of today can generate a higher capacity of electricity compared to turbines 30 years ago


        Increasing Capacities

        Our Waubra Wind Farm in Victoria has 128 turbines, each with a 1.5MW capacity. Altogether, this wind farm produces enough energy to power 138,000 homes. 15 years after this wind farm started operating, we are nearing construction completion of our biggest wind farm globally, the MacIntyre Wind Farm. In comparison, the MacIntyre Wind Farm has 180 turbines with a 5.7MW capacity. With just 52 more turbines, this wind farm can power over 560,000 more homes!


        New Technologies

        New innovations and advancing technologies are behind these increasing efficiencies in turbines. A few examples of these include better designs of blades to capture more energy from the wind, wake steering allowing turbines to turn to the wind, and special cranes that make it easier to construct turbines. There are even new ways of transporting blades to areas with good wind resources that would have otherwise been difficult to access.

        Can renewable energy meet our capacity demands? 

        Renewable energy is more than capable of addressing Australia’s energy demands, for multiple reasons. Not only is it a cheaper energy source when compared to non-renewable sources, but also advancements in technologies and Australia’s grid are making it a more efficient source.


          Support from Government and Policy Makers

          To reduce our emissions by 2030, Australia will need over 80% of the country’s energy supply to be from renewable sources. Currently, renewable energy makes up 39.4% of Australia’s energy supply, so there is still a lot of work to be done. Federal and State Governments have recognised the challenge and are in support of the transition with targets, incentives and policies that will accelerate the development of renewable energy projects and storage options. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has also planned for a long-term demand of renewable energy projects and infrastructure, giving confidence to developers.


          A Feasible Solution

          Over 70% of the energy generated for use in South Australia is from renewable sources, and Tasmania has achieved almost 100% renewable energy generation. These states are leading the way in driving the energy transition. Particularly for South Australia, formerly driven economically by car manufacturing, the State has shifted its focus to renewable energy, reskilling workers and creating new green jobs and economic opportunities for South Australians.


          Improvements to Australia’s Grid

          Updates to Australia’s grid (the network of transmission of electricity from generators to consumers) are essential in making the energy transition possible. Governments are already facilitating these upgrades; building new transmission lines and investing in grid-stabilising technologies.