How do wind turbines work?

How do wind turbines work?

Have you ever wondered how a wind turbine tower can support so much weight? Or why they are all orientated in the same direction? This is the nature of wind turbines, the giants of renewable energy.

When travelling by road a little way away from cities you must have come across a wind energy farm. It is curious to see how wind turbines appear to work in sync. It’s like watching a football team, with all of the members placed strategically and turning in the same direction.

It may seem like a coincidence, but it is not: All of the details of the operation are governed by well-studied and well-defined research. Find out more about them!

How is wind transformed into energy?

Why are the most commonly used wind turbines those with three blades?
Throughout history, there have been many types of turbines or machines that were used to take advantage of the kinetic energy produced by the wind. Of all of these, the most used and widespread in our days — and likewise chosen by Iberdrola — is one which has three blades moving with respect to a horizontal axis. This is the most efficient option from the technical point of view: having fewer blades leads to better balance.

Why do they always face in the same direction?

Like a field of sunflowers, wind turbines are always oriented in the same direction so that, instead of following the sun, they may follow the wind and harness its potential energy. This is achieved thanks to a weather vane that they all have on top of the nacelle. This weather vane indicates to the control whether the rotor is correctly positioned against the wind.

How does the wind manage to move the blades?

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how the blades of a wind turbine, laden with such size and weight, are able to be moved by a wind with normal characteristics. The reason is due to its shape, the so-called aerodynamic profile: When the wind blows perpendicular to them, a lift force is generated that causes the movement.

How does the tower hold up so much weight?

A wind turbine tower is a structural component onto which the rotor and the nacelle are fixed. Moreover, it supports the entire force of the wind. The key is in its design and composition, as it must be able to bear the weight of up to 15 adult elephants.

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