Has anyone provided any evidence that building more wind turbines results in less oil wells being drilled?


2 Answers 2


Currently, it's true that there is no link.

Oil and renewables are used mainly for different purposes.

Wind turbines (and solar power plants) create electricity. Electricity is mainly used for heating, cooling, lights, running appliances, industrial purposes, etc. The exception of this is steelmaking which is still using coal.

Otherwise without wind turbines, the bulk of the electricity would probably be created with coal and natural gas, since we don't have enough hydropower for example. So wind power does in fact displace coal and to some extent natural gas.

Oil is mainly used for transportation, although in some cases it can still be used for heating too but oil for heating is rapidly becoming obsolete. However, what is making oil in heating obsolete rapidly is not wind power, it's heat pumps. Those heat pumps don't use directly wind power, they use electricity which can use any generation method. So in a world where 100% of electricity was generated by coal and natural gas, it would probably make more sense to use ground source heat pumps than to burn oil for heat.

What is changing, however, is electric vehicles. They are far more efficient than oil-burning cars. It could be argued that it's not wind power that displaces oil, it's electricity that displaces oil. Even if electricity was generated by 100% natural gas, electric vehicles would still be more efficient than internal combustion engines.

So it could be argued that oil will become obsolete due to electrification in any case. This would happen despite renewables, so it's true that wind power does not displace oil. Electricity does displace oil.

It's just that in many regions wind power happens to be the most economical way to create electricity. It creates problems for grid stability, but that's nothing that can't be solved: existing hydropower in some cases is enough to accommodate some amount of wind power, and if more adjustability is required from the grid, it's possible to start creating pumped storage hydropower plants and maybe even massive underground hydrogen storage.


Despite the best intentions of a significant number of people worldwide the consumption of oil has not yet significantly diminished.

There are two reasons why oil wells are established: to increase production or to maintain production. Oil is a finite resource and each deposit has its own size and its own time period for which oil can be extracted from it. As oil deposits get depleted and eventually abandoned, sometimes new wells in other deposits are established to replace the former wells or to replace the production from wells that used to produce more oil per unit of time.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.