How Do Wind Turbines Work?


Wind turbines turn the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy and then electricity through the use of a shaft and a gearbox that power an internal generator. Sensors in the wind turbine allow it to turn and adjust its angle for optimum wind capture. Electricity from the turbine generator goes to a substation, where it is converted to a high voltage capable of transportation through power lines.

Wind blows on the angled blades of the turbine and creates lift, just as it does with an airplane wing. This causes the rotor to turn. Wind turbines convert energy of winds between 4 and 25 meters per second. Faster winds result in more energy. However, most turbines are designed to stop when winds exceed 25 meters per second, as these can damage the apparatus.

A shaft and gearbox connect the rotor to a generator, which spins along with the rotor. The generator consists of magnets and a conductor of coiled wire. The shaft connects to permanent magnets that surround the wire. When the shaft rotates the magnets around the conductor, voltage is produced in the coil of wire. This voltage is sent as electrical current through power lines. From there, the lines distribute the electricity to the intended destination.