Wind Turbines – How do they work?

Renewable energy is fast becoming the most popular way to generate our electricity but many of us still don’t fully understand how it works. Rain, wind and sun are important, but that doesn’t explain the whole picture. How do we take raw natural power and generate electricity form it? Here is some information about how wind turbines operate:

The blowing wind carries kinetic energy, which means it has the ability to move things. The blades on a wind turbine are designed in such a way as to rotate when the wind hits them. It is this motion that is essential to create electricity.

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A wind turbine most often begins rotating at a wind speed of just 3-5 metres per second, which is what we might consider a gentle breeze. When the blades rotate, they turn a shaft in the box at the top of the turbine, called a nacelle.

Inside the nacelle sits a generator and it is this machinery which converts the energy from rotation into an electrical energy. This then must be transformed into a voltage so as to be connected to the grid or used locally. Whether large or small, all wind turbines use this process to generate electricity. The smooth running of such important machines is helped by quality components, such as the use of Silicone Hoses from Good flex Rubber.

The amount of electricity generated depends on the wind speed and the type of turbine. Many onshore turbines are able to produce more than 6,000,000 kWh annually – enough to power approximately 1,500 homes with electricity.

A wind turbine will be more effective if it is positioned optimally for the wind. The most effective locations are on top of hills where there is plenty of open space surrounding it and nothing to disrupt the flow of wind to the turbine.

Obviously, the faster the wind speed, the more electricity is generated but a wind turbine would never break in a gale, for example, as they self-regulate to avoid damage. Interestingly, when the wind speed doubles, the generation of electricity doesn’t double, it goes up eightfold! Wind turbines can generate electricity up to 80% of the time, so they are a great power source all year round.

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Wind power is popular in the UK as it’s pretty windy here! It’s even better in Scotland, as that is the windiest place in Europe! And the great thing about wind power is that it gets windier in the winter, which is when we use most of our electricity.

Building wind farms has one of the lowest carbon footprints of the renewable sources of energy and can help lower our dependence on fossil fuels. At the start of January 2017, there were almost 6,000 wind turbines onshore and 1,500 offshore in the UK.

Gabriel Montgomery

Gabriel Montgomery

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