Wind Turbines

Instead of consuming electricity to create wind (like a fan), wind turbines use the wind to produce electricity. This type of sustainable energy is less versatile than solar energy and sometimes very challenging because of the wind flow patterns and variations.

Offshore Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine
Offshore Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs) at Scroby Sands Wind Farm, England

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How do wind turbines make electricity?

Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical power. A generator can convert mechanical power into electricity, using the aerodynamic force created by the rotor blades. When the wind flows across the blade, the air pressure on one side of the blade decreases. The difference in air pressure across the two sides of the blade causes the rotor to spin.

Components of a horizontal axis wind turbine
Components of a horizontal axis wind turbine (gearbox, rotor shaft and brake assembly) being lifted into position

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wind tURBINE types

Horizontal-axis turbines: Horizontal-axis wind turbines are what many people picture when they think of wind turbines. The most common have three blades and are operated “upwind,” with the turbine pivoting at the top of the tower, so the blades face into the wind.

The three primary types of wind turbines
The three primary types: VAWT Savonius, HAWT towered; VAWT Darrieus as they appear in operation

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Vertical-Axis Turbines: Vertical-axis wind turbines come in several varieties, including the eggbeater-style Darrieus model, named after its French inventor. These turbines are omnidirectional, meaning they don’t need to be adjusted to point into the wind to operate.

The world's tallest vertical-axis wind turbine
The world’s tallest vertical-axis wind turbine, in Cap-Chat, Quebec

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The smallest turbines are used in battery charging for auxiliary power for boats or caravans or to power traffic warning signs.
Larger turbines can contribute to the domestic power supply while selling unused power back to the utility supplier via the electrical grid. Both turbine type can be placed on land or offshore, in large bodies of water like oceans and lakes.

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