How Do Wind Turbines Work
In many countries such as France, Australia and the US, wind energy is being harnessed on a relatively massive
Wind energy has been used since the primeval days, when it was used to power sail boats and primitive
With advanced technology now, wind power can be better captured and utilized, albeit a lot still has to be
It is not only for domestic energy needs that we use wind power, but also for popular sporting and recreational
activities, such as parasailing, wind surfing and parachuting. There are many more aerodynamic devices that you
might not ordinarily notice.
So, how is this energy really got from wind?
Wind turbines basically convert kinetic energy into electrical energy that is then used in homes. As you would
expect, the larger the turbine, the more wind is collected and therefore more energy produced. The choice of the
turbine depends on the energy demands of the particular application for which the installation is to be made.
The process of producing wind energy is quite simple. Basically, when the wind blows over the rotor blades, low
air pressure makes them spin. This spinning is triggered by the lift and drag process.
The blades will in turn spin the shaft connected to the generator, which then converts the kinetic energy into
electrical energy. The energy is then transmitted through cabling and into the inverters, and then supplied to the
There are two main types of turbines – vertical axis and horizontal axis turbines – although they may come in a
range of sizes and shapes. For horizontal wind turbines, the axis of rotation is parallel to the ground; the
turbine’s rotor blades have to be facing the direction of wind for them to capture the kinetic energy.
Vertical axis wind turbines are relatively newer than horizontal
axis turbines. Their rotor blades have to spin parallel to the ground, making it possible for them to run in any
place regardless of wind direction.
Vertical turbines are great in areas where the wind conditions vary greatly as they don’t depend on the
direction of wind. Their gear box, as well as the generator, can also be placed closer to the ground given their
axis orientation. However, they are difficult to install.
Horizontal axis turbines are usually installed at higher altitudes but can also be placed atop a roof. The
turbine is anchored on top of a pole that is fixed to the ground into a concrete foundation.
A turbine divided into two parts: the blades that rotate with the wind and a turbine nacelle inside which the
generator assembly is found.
Some problems with wind energy
While wind energy is a clean and renewable source, it has its share of problems too.
Firstly, it is a bit on the high end as far as initial installation is concerned. In fact, many people have
argued that wind energy generates far less energy for the price.
There have also been cases of noise from the turbines and the danger to birds, in addition to being land and
material intensive – steel and concrete particularly.
However, apart from the cost issue, the other smaller issues can be made up for by it’s environmental