What the Heck is a Gigawatt?!?!

Thanks to innovations in turbine technology, the capacity for electricity generated from wind turbines has increased exponentially over the last decade. Yet, throughout the wind discussion, it can be difficult to truly grasp the exact amount of electricity each turbine can create. While a typical large wind turbine can generate up to 1.8 MW of electricity, enough to power 600 homes, breaking this number down will create a better picture of how much electricity a wind farm can produce, as well as, translating the amount into commercial and industrial requirements.

· Electricity is measured by Watts (W).

· One thousand Watts = One Kilowatt (kW)

· One million Watts = One Megawatt (MW)

· One billion Watts = One Gigawatt (GW)

Furthermore, electricity is also measured by watt usage over time. For example, one kilowatt-hour (kWh) means 1,000 kW is used in one hour. Watt-hours are the de facto way to gauge electricity usage. The formula to calculate kilowatt hours is:

· Watts x hours used/1000 = kWh

· Watts x hours used/1 million = MWh

· Watts x hours used/1 billion = kWh

For example, let’s answer the question of how much electricity ten 100W light bulbs would use in a month.

· 10 bulbs X 100W = 1,000W or 1kW of lighting

· 10 hours of daily use X 30 days in the month = 300 hours of use

· 1kW X 300 hours of use = 300kWh of energy consumption

When discussing the electricity generated from wind turbines, the amounts in question are much larger. Take, for example, the Emerson Creek Wind Farm, which is capable of producing 300 MW of energy each year, could power up to 87,850 homes. The amount of electricity generated by wind turbines also varies dramatically based on the size, but the average turbine can generate 2-3 MW of electricity or 6 million kWh of electricity.

Hopefully, this guide will help everyone gain a better understanding of how much electricity can come from wind turbines. At the current pricing trend, it is poised to become an even more affordable resource!