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Wind turbine

Windmills of the third millennium: This is how wind turbines take advantage of air currents to produce electricity.

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A wind turbine is a small engineering masterpiece which appears deceptively simple. The most common type is the classic horizontal axle wind turbine made up of a nacelle and rotor, usually with 3 blades at the end of it. Vertical axle wind turbines are less common due to air resistance problems.

The tower, from 30 to 120 meters tall, lifts the nacelle up in the air. Various mechanisms are inside the nacelle that convert wind into electricity. The farther from the ground, the greater the wind speed, which is why wind turbines need to be so tall. A rotor, 130 to 170 meters in diameter, is attached to the end of the nacelle. The blades, from 40 to 80 meters long, are attached to a hub on the rotor.

A wind turbine, from earth to sky

How a wind turbine works

The process is quite simple. The rotor is activated by the wind. Its rotation is transmitted to an input shaft that powers an electric generator. This so-called yaw system enables the nacelle to be positioned based on the direction of the wind. The rotor starts working only when wind speed is greater than 10 km/h, while the wind turbine shuts down at speeds of over 90 km/h for safety reasons.

Basically, the wind’s kinetic energy is converted into mechanical energy by the rotor. A gear box transforms the blades’ slow rotations (between 18 and 25 per minute) into faster rotations (up to 1,500 per minute) that can power the electric generator. The electric generator converts the mechanical energy into electricity. A transformer transfers the electricity from one circuit to another (in this case the electric grid), modifying its characteristics.

Various control systems are located on the nacelle to continuously monitor the wind turbine’s operational parameters, thereby producing renewable energy safely and maximizing the efficiency of the wind farm.

 

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