Wind power or wind energy is the use of wind to provide mechanical power through wind turbines to turn electric generators for electrical power. Wind power is a popular, sustainable, renewable energy source that has a much smaller impact on the environment than burning fossil fuels.
Wind farms consist of many individual wind turbines, which are connected to the electric power transmission network. Onshore wind is an inexpensive source of electric power, competitive with, or in many places cheaper than, coal or gas plants. Onshore wind farms have a greater visual impact on the landscape than other power stations, as they need to be spread over more land and need to be built in rural areas, which can lead to "industrialization of the countryside" and habitat loss. Offshore wind is steadier and stronger than on land and offshore farms have less visual impact, but construction and maintenance costs are significantly higher. Small onshore wind farms can feed some energy into the grid or provide power to isolated off-grid locations.
Wind power is an intermittent energy source, which cannot be dispatched on demand. Locally, it gives variable power, which is consistent from year to year but varies greatly over shorter time scales. Therefore, it must be used with other power sources to give a reliable supply. Power-management techniques such as having dispatchable power sources (often gas-fired power plant or hydroelectric power), excess capacity, geographically distributed turbines, exporting and importing power to neighboring areas, grid storage, reducing demand when wind production is low, and curtailing occasional excess wind power, are used to overcome these problems. As the proportion of wind power in a region increases the grid may need to be upgraded. Weather forecasting permits the electric-power network to be readied for the predictable variations in production that occur.
In 2019, wind supplied 1430 TWh of electricity, which was 5.3% of worldwide electrical generation, with the global installed wind power capacity reaching more than 651 GW, an increase of 10% over 2018.