How Much Energy Does a Wind Turbine Generate?

A typical modern wind turbine has a capacity of two megawatts (MW). A single turbine with this capacity is expected to generate the same amount of electricity as used by just over 1000 average households.

Calculations

The simplest formula to estimate the amount of energy generated by any electricity generating station is:

(Power x Time) x Capacity factor = Energy (electricity) generated

The units of energy normally used are megawatt hours (MWh) and kilowatt hours (kWh) but sometimes Joules (J), Kilojoules (kJ) or Megajoules (MJ).

  • Power = the rated capacity of the generating station
  • Time = the number of hours in a year
  • Capacity factor = an adjustment to take account of the fact that no power station operates at full output all year round

A wind turbine’s output varies with the wind speed and an average modern wind turbine has a capacity factor in the range of 25-30%. This figure should not be confused with the amount of time a wind turbine is generating energy which is much higher (usually between 75-80%). 

Example

Here is a worked example for a 2MW (2000kW) wind turbine over a year:

  • Power = 2,000kW
  • Time = 24 hours x 365 days = 8,760 hours
  • Capacity factor = 0.25 (25%)

Energy = (2,000 x 8,760) x 0.25 = 4,380,000 kWh

An average household uses 4,222kWh of electricity per year, so…

A single 2MW turbine generates an amount of electricity equivalent to that used by approximately...

4,380,000 / 4,222 =  1037 households

Further information

Wind energy calculations provided by RenewableUK

Wind energy calculations provided by the American Wind Energy Association

Last updated on: 12/30/2013