What Are Wind Turbines and How Do They Work?

Wind turbines function on a simple principle: rather of using energy to create wind (like a fan does), they utilize wind to create power. The propeller-like blades of a turbine are turned by the wind around a rotor, which spins a generator, which generates power.

Wind is a type of solar energy that is produced by a series of three events:

  1. The sun heats the atmosphere unevenly.
  2. Irregularities on the surface of the world
  3. The earth’s axis of rotation.

Wind patterns and speeds range dramatically across the United States, and are influenced by bodies of water, vegetation, and topography changes. Sailing, flying a kite, and even generating electricity are all examples of how humans employ wind flow, or motion energy.

Both “wind energy” and “wind power” refer to the process of using the wind to create mechanical or electrical power. This mechanical energy can be employed for specialized purposes (such as grinding grain or pumping water), or it can be converted to electricity using a generator.

The aerodynamic force of the rotor blades, which act similarly to an aeroplane wing or helicopter rotor blade, converts wind energy into electricity in a wind turbine. The air pressure on one side of the blade lowers when wind blows across it. Lift and drag are created by the difference in air pressure across the two sides of the blade. The lift force is greater than the drag force, causing the rotor to spin. The rotor is connected to the generator either directly (if it’s a direct drive turbine) or through a shaft and a series of gears (a gearbox), which speeds up the rotation and allows the generator to be physically smaller. The conversion of aerodynamic force to generator rotation generates power.

wind turbine

Wind Turbine Types

The most common types of wind turbines are:


Many people envision horizontal-axis wind turbines when they think about wind turbines.

They usually have three blades and run “upwind,” with the turbine rotating at the top of the tower and the blades facing the wind.


The eggbeater-style Darrieus type, named after its French designer, is one of numerous vertical-axis wind turbines.

These turbines are omnidirectional, which means they don’t have to be pointed into the wind to work.


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