Wind turbines operate by transforming the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical power which is used to generate electricity by spinning a generator. These turbines can be on land, or can be offshore wind turbines.
Modern wind turbines come a variety of sizes but all types generally consist of several main components:
- Rotor Blades - The rotor blades of a wind turbine operate under the same principle as aircraft wings. One side of the blade is curved while the other is flat. The wind flows more quickly along the curved edge, creating a difference in pressure on either side of the blade. The blades are “pushed” by the air in order to equalize the pressure difference, causing the blades to turn.
- Nacelle – The nacelle contains a set of gears and a generator. The turning blades are linked to the generator by the gears. The gears convert the relatively slow blade rotation to the generator rotation speed of approximately 1500 rpm. The generator then converts the rotational energy from the blades into electrical energy.
- Tower – The blades and nacelle are mounted on top of a tower. The tower is constructed to hold the rotor blades off the ground and at an ideal wind speed. Towers are usually between 50-100 m above the surface of the ground or water. Offshore towers are generally fixed to the bottom of the water body, although research is ongoing to develop a tower that floats on the surface.
Visualization of turbine
MidAmerican Energy Company has an excellent video on the construction of a wind turbine, to watch click here.
The video below, created by UVSAR, shows a turbine's parts in detail.
For Further Reading
- Wikimedia Commons [Online], Available: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Darling_Wind_Farm.jpg
- Wind Energy Technologies Office (Nov.29, 2018). How Wind Turbines Work [Online] Available: https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/how-do-wind-turbines-work
- Wikimedia Commons [Online], Available: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/EERE_illust_large_turbine.gif
- Windustry (2012). How Big are Wind Turbines? [Online] Available: http://www.windustry.org/resources/how-big-are-wind-turbines
- Energy Center of Wisconsin. (n.d.). Parts of a Turbine [Online]. Available: http://www.ecw.org/windpower/web/cat2a.html