Wind power has been harnessed for decades, with the first windmill used in electricity production built in the late 1800s in Scotland. In recent years, the creation of wind farms, where hundreds to even thousands of turbines work collectively to generate electricity in an environmentally friendly fashion, has increased significantly. The United States is home to half of the world’s largest onshore wind farms, helping the wind industry to generate tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity.
While the seismic industry helps in the planning and creation of these wind farms, the oil industry is essential to keeping the turbines running efficiently once they have been established. They rely daily on petroleum products to properly grease and lubricate generators, gearboxes and other parts mounted inside the turbines to keep the giant machines operating properly.
Obviously it takes wind to generate wind-powered electricity. Less obvious, however, is that it also takes the consistent presence of lubricants, which are derived from petroleum. While the massive blades and nacelles towering over a growing number of windswept expanses are the public face of the wind power industry, the lubricated gearboxes and generators, mounted deep inside those turbines are critical to commercial wind power. Without their complex mechanical interplay, wind turbines would grind to a halt. And so with global wind power capacity growing—it reached more than 432,000 megawatts by the end of 2015—so too does the need for petroleum-based gear lubricants.