How do wind turbines work?

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How does each significant part of the turbine help in turning wind power into electricity?

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In a hydro electric, or a coal/gas/nuclear steam generating station, water or steam is shot through a turbine, which spins, and in turn spins an electric generator. In a wind turbine, the rotating blades have their high torque low speed motion converted via some gears, into high speed rotation that spins an electric generator. The electricity is sent down the pylon and through some underground cables to the the power grid.

All electricity generators (commercial) work the same way – spin a conductor inside a magnetic field and you generate a flow or electric charges. In hydroelectric plants, water flow spins giant turbines; in thermoelectric, whether gas, nuclear, coal or oil, heated fluid (water usually) spins the turbine. In wind turbines, the wind does . Big giant blades, just like in a windmill are pushed by the flow of fluid (air); they transfer the motion to the axis that through gears is transmitted to the rotor.

A moving magnetic field over a wire creates an electric current. Move a lot of magnets over a lot of wires and you have a lot of power.

Wind pushes blades, blades push magnets, magnets push electricity, then a uh magic box chops up and moulds the electricity into a beautiful clean 60 hz sinusoidal AC wave. Expect for solar all electricity is made from spinning a magnetic field. You can push electrons around with magnetism, and spinning is the simplest way to do it.

A wind turbine has blades (typically 3) that are carefully shaped airfoils, like the wings of an airplane. They produce lift which causes them to spin. They are thin because that is how you make the most efficient wing.

The blades are attached to a shaft which is either attached to a gearbox and then a generator or directly to a much larger generator. The gear box exists to increase the rotational speed so that a smaller and cheaper generator can be used.

The generator produces AC electricity similar to your house but it [usually] has the wrong frequency. You probably saw “50-60 Hz” on just about any electronic device you plug in, that’s the frequency. So, a wind turbine also has a large power converter to change the varying frequency of the generator (it changes depending on how fast it spins) to the very stable frequency of the electric grid. Without doing this, power would flow incorrectly, sometimes even backwards, and things would explode.

The tall tower is there to get the blades up higher where the wind is faster. Faster win means much more power.

When there is too much wind, the blades can each rotate independently so that they face into the wind and stop producing lift to cause them all to spin. This is how they control their maximum power.

To make sure that the turbine is always pointed the right way, the whole top can also rotate to point the right way. Otherwise, you would produce no power if it was turned sideways.