Wind Turbines

2023-12-01 00:00:00 / episode: 319


What are they?

The very word turbine makes me think of a jet engine. When I started to research about wind turbines I discovered that they weren't jet engines and didn't have anything to do with them. The wind turbine is really just a giant windmill. I don't know why they don't like the word windmill anymore, except that it is perhaps old-fashioned but creating a whole new word for something that's essentially the same seems like we're making our language too complex.


Hi and welcome to the Les Perras podcast episode 319. These podcasts are a great source of vocabulary for your extensive listening practice. Today I’m going to talk about wind turbines.

Where are they

Wind turbines are actually sen sitive things. A lot of people think that they are wonderful because they're generating renewable energy and they're not harming the environment. But there's another group of people who say otherwise. They said that they're noisy and they really ruin a neighborhood. They changed the wind flow patterns and that can alter the environment quite a bit. So there's actually quite a few rules about where you can put up wind turbines, or start a wind farm. Also some countries don't have a lot of generally open flat space that gets a lot of wind. For example here in Japan although it's fairly windy there's not a lot of good land for putting up wind farms because it's all mountainous. In this case the obvious solution is to put the wind farm out on the ocean. That keeps it out of the way of people but it changes the way that we and animals can use the ocean.


They sound wonderful because they're generating energy from the wind which is always blowing. But is it? In fact to get those giant turbines moving you need a certain strength and speed of the wind. There's a lot of days when the wind is blowing, but not enough to move the turbine, and by contrast there are days when the wind is blowing too fast and it's dangerous to have the turbine spinning in that wind so on those days the turbines are locked down. So there's all sorts of limits to these things and they're not quite as magical as we would like to think for producing renewable energy.


There's basically one kind of turbine out there that's used in a lot of places, but actually there's several designs for the wings or the blades of the turbine. These are the parts that catch the wind and move in the wind. Most look just like a giant propeller but there's some that look like giant giant helixes that are spinning in the wind. Those ones are the most cool to me.

Good things

Wind energy is good because after you pay for the initial wind turbine, it doesn't take a lot to keep it going. You can also use the land for other things like farming. And of course the wind is free.

Bad things

On the other hand they're noisy and they can kill animals and they can really spoil an otherwise beautiful landscape. They like to be up high on the mountain sides to catch the wind so if you want to go and take a beautiful mountain photograph there'll be Windmills in your photo and some people don't like that.

Good or bad?

It seems simple to just try and make a decision: are they good or are they bad? But it isn't really even that difficult. When there's an advantage to using them we're going to use them. We will find places to put them and we will find ways to get the energy into the cities. So windmills are here to stay. If you like listening to English for your extensive English listening then hit the Subscribe button below so you can get more of my podcasts. I’d love it if you made a comment below, too. Tell me if you have a wind farm near you.