A wind turbine is simply the opposite of a fan. While a fan uses electricity to make wind, a wind turbine uses wind to make electricity. A basic wind turbine consists of a rotor and an electrical generator at the top of a tower. The wind turns the blades, which spins the rotor’s shaft. The turning shaft connects to a generator and makes electricity. Wires then deliver the electricity to where it’s needed.
Many factors determine the amount of energy a wind turbine can generate. Some are:
Rotor size – The length of the rotor blades significantly affects the turbine’s performance. In general, the larger and longer the blades, the more wind can be collected.
Wind speed – The energy available from the wind increases exponentially as wind speed increases. In other words, doubling the wind speed increases the available energy by a factor of eight. Because wind speed typically increases with the height above the ground, many turbines must be installed on tall towers.
Blade speed – The faster the blades spin, the more energy is created.
Air density – The energy available in the wind is directly proportional to air density. As air density increases, the power available also increases. Air density is affected by both pressure and temperature, both of which decrease with the elevation above the ground.
Turbine technology – All wind turbines are not created equal. Turbine technology can have a dramatic affect on energy production.