eli5 Do wind turbines really suck electricity out when the wind dies?


My husband says he was given a tour of a wind turbine at a Texas University and the tour guide said that when the wind died down the wind turbine’s inner mechanisms actually sucked electricity from the grid, I guess to keep some of the internal mechanics running? Is this true? It was quite some time ago, so I would have thought there’d be enough advances in technology to prevent this. Does anyone know?

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They may draw a little current to keep their on-board controls running, like any other computerized/smart device. But “suck electricity from the grid” sounds overly dramatic, especially since one would assume they have some sort of UPS on board

Wind turbines can be used to absorb phase imbalance on the grid. That’s why we can see them rotating even in the absence of wind.

> I guess to keep some of the internal mechanics running?

Yes, but it’s a pretty negligible amount of energy, and this isn’t unique to wind power. All power stations have downtime for maintenance, but they still need energy during this time to keep the lights on and the machines working. I think nuclear power stations usually have an emergency gas or diesel generator so that vital systems can keep running even if both the power station and the connection to the grid are offline.