An Introduction to Wind Turbines and How They Work

Wind Turbine wind cables

Solar isn’t the only source of clean and renewable energy; there’s also wind. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 19% of all renewable energy produced in the United States comes from wind. Wind turbines are responsible for converting wind into electricity to power homes and businesses. While you may have seen wind turbines before, you may not know how they work.

What Are Wind Turbines?

Wind turbines are propeller-driven systems that are designed to generate electricity from wind. They look like windmills. Wind turbines feature long blades that spin around a central stem.

There are different types of wind turbines. The most common type is horizontal-axis. Horizontal-axis wind turbines typically feature three blades. They are designed to operate upwind. Horizontal-axis wind turbines will only generate electricity when positioned upwind.

In addition to horizontal-axis, there are vertical-axis wind turbines. They aren’t as common as their horizontal-axis counterparts. Nonetheless, vertical-axis wind turbines are able to generate electricity in all directions. Horizontal-axis wind turbines must be positioned upwind, but vertical-axis wind turbines can be positioned anywhere.

How Wind Turbines Produce Electricity

Wind turbines produce electricity by using a set of propellers to power a generator. When exposed to wind, the blades on a wind turbine will spin. Exposure to wind will create both lift and drag. The lift produced by the wind, however, will be greater than the drag, so the blades will spin.

At the base of a wind turbine is a rotor. The rotor connects to a generator. As the blades spin, the rotor will power the generator to which it’s connected.

It’s important to note that some wind turbines connect direct to a generator, whereas others connect to a generator via a gearbox. Gearboxes are designed to accelerate the rotation. Not all wind turbines use a gearbox; many of them connect directly to a generator. But there are still some wind turbines that use a gearbox.

What is a Wind Farm?

A wind farm is a large collection of wind turbines. There are solar farms consisting of many solar panels, and there are wind farms consisting of many wind turbines.

Wind farms are commonly owned and operated by utility companies. Utility providers operate wind farms, which they use to power their customers’ homes and businesses with renewable wind energy.

In Conclusion

Wind turbines are systems bladed propellers that convert wind into electricity. They work by powering a generator. As the blades spin, wind turbines will engage a generator either directly or via a gearbox.

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