One of the alternative energy options that we use in this world is wind turbines. Wind energy is becoming more popular as we seek to find new ways to fuel our world. Today we’re going to share a bit about how wind turbines work so that you can better understand this form of energy.
You’ve probably seen wind turbines around the area that you live. Many places have these big turbines up on mountain tops to help bring energy to everyone down below. Wind turbines look like airplane propellers on a big shaft that just spins around going nowhere.
There are three types of wind energy that are used today; utility-scale wind, distributed wind, and offshore wind. Utility-scale wind creates energy from the wind that’s sent to a grid and distributed out by the electric company in the area. Distributed wind is typically smaller in size and used to generate power for an off-grid home. Offshore wind is built offshore in the ocean or large water mass and generates more wind power than the other two wind energy options.
Wind turbines are built to capture the wind to create energy. The giant propellers will turn in the air when the wind catches them. This spinning allows the wind turbine to capture the kinetic energy from the wind.
As the propellers spin and capture the kinetic energy, the rotation starts an inner spinning of the gear inside the shaft. The inner shaft is connected to a gearbox. The gearbox is set to rotate the wind power by a factor of 100 so that there’s more spinning going on inside of the wind turbine.
As the wind blows and every piece of these wind turbines does its work, they start to shift the propellers to face the best angle to capture the most wind energy. This is why you might see the propellers turning as they’re spinning on a very windy day.
The machine is built to know which angle or “pitch” is best suited to capture the most kinetic energy to then convert into usable energy on the electric grid. Most wind turbines need a wind that measures around 6-9 miles per hour, and the turbines are set to shut down if the wind speeds get too much for the system.
The wind turbine works to capture the energy, kinetic energy, that’s created as the wind blows. This kinetic energy is then transformed using the inner part of the shaft and gearbox to displace the energy into electricity that we can use.
The key to this working is the gearbox that converts the slower speed of wind into a much higher rotation that allows us to convert the kinetic energy to usable energy. This happens as the propellers capture the wind energy and send it down the shaft to the gearbox. These massive wind turbines may look like gigantic pinwheels, but they’re more like a brilliant machine working to utilize natural wind as energy.
This whole process happens automatically wherever you see wind turbines erected. While wind turbines do require regular maintenance, they typically work on their own with minimal supervision, thus creating a pretty sustainable and low-cost form of alternative energy.