September 20, 2011

The Essentials of Wind Power: How Wind Turbines Create Power

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In the sphere of wind power, there exist two varieties of wind turbines: horizontal axis and vertical axis turbines. In horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT’s), the rotor shaft sits horizontally. Architects must set HAWT’s facing the wind in order to generate energy.

As for vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT’s), the main rotor shaft sits vertically and doesn’t need to be facing the wind. The VAWT, however, produces lower rotational speed and higher torque, thus making these types of turbines much less efficient than their horizontal counterparts.

HAWT’s, on the other hand, can generate much more energy. In 2008, utility providers in the U.S. owned land-based HAWT’s with an average capacity of 1.67 megawatts (MW), while offshore turbines can range anywhere from 3.5 to 5 MW in capacity.

Wind turbines create electricity in approximately three simple stages. To begin, the wind moves the rotor blades, the big part of the turbines that spin. Usually, the higher the blades stand above the ground, the greater the resultant power because winds speed increases as you move higher into the air.

Inserted into the origin of the blades is the turbine shaft, which rotates as the blades move the rotational mechanical energy to the primary shaft. Sometimes, numerous gears and supplementary shafts will join the main shaft to increase its rotations per minute, which, then, greatens its electrical creation.

At the end of the shaft lies the electrical generator. Wind turbines most of the time capitalize on electromagnetic induction to translate the mechanical energy into electric voltage. A person may consider voltage as electrical pressure, which relays electricity from point A to point B.

Inside the generator, the shaft meets a number of magnets that surround a conductor, like a wire coil. The shaft revolves the magnets around the coil, which creates voltage in the conductor. Finally, the voltage moves the produced electricity to a mechanism or power plant that collects and dispenses the power.

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