How Do Wind Turbines Work?

Do you have a fascination with renewable energy? Are you interested in how wind turbines work and wondering how to train to become a wind turbine technician? Wind turbine technician is a challenging field that you can learn all about at MIAT College of Technology. So, how does wind energy work?

How Does Wind Energy Work?

Wind energy is the process of creating electricity using the wind. When the wind blows past a wind turbine, the rotating blades capture the wind’s kinetic energy and convert it to mechanical energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The rotation turns an internal shaft connected to a gearbox in the nacelle, which houses the turbine’s generating components. The gearbox spins a generator, which produces electricity.

Wind energy is created by using the aerodynamic force from the turbine’s rotor blades. Wind turns the propeller-like blades of a turbine around a rotor, which spins a generator and creates electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Similar to an airplane wing, the difference in air pressure across the two sides of the rotor blade creates both lift and drag. These forces of lift and drag spin the rotor. The rotor connected to the generator speeds up the rotation, and the translation of aerodynamic force to rotation of a generator creates electricity.

The placement of wind turbines depends on wind conditions, the surrounding terrain and access to electric transmission. Produced wind energy runs to a substation and is transferred to the electrical grid to help power homes and commercial buildings.

What Are Wind Turbines Made Of?

Wind turbines are made of steel, fiberglass, resin or plastic, iron or cast-iron, copper, and aluminum. The individual components of a wind turbine include:

Blades – Most wind turbines have three blades that can reach over 170 feet in length.

Nacelle – Sits on top of the tower and contains the gearbox, shafts, generator and brakes.

Yaw system – Rotates the nacelle on upwind turbines to keep them facing the wind. The yaw motor powers the yaw drive to move the wind turbine when wind direction changes.

Pitch system – Adjusts the angle of the wind turbine’s blades based on wind direction, controlling the rotor speed. The pitch system controls how much energy the blades can extract.

Hub – Part of the wind turbine’s drivetrain, the hub houses the turbine blades and is connected to the main shaft.

Drivetrain – Consists of the rotor, main bearing, main shaft, gearbox and generator. The drivetrain converts the rotation of the wind turbine into electrical energy.

Rotor – The blades and hub together form the rotor.

Low-speed shaft – Connected to the rotor and spins up to 20 rpm.

Main shaft bearing – Supports the rotating low-speed shaft to reduce friction between moving parts to help prevent damage.

High-speed shaft – Connects to the gearbox and drives the generator.

Generator – Copper windings turn through a magnetic field to produce electricity.

Controller – Allows the wind turbine to start at wind speeds of 11 mph and shuts off the turbine when speeds exceed 65 mph. Turning off the turbine at high speeds helps prevent possible damage to the turbine.

Brakes – Keep the rotor from turning the blades after being shut down by the pitch system.

What Does a Wind Turbine Technician Do?

Wind turbine technicians install, maintain and repair wind turbines, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wind turbine technicians typically do the following:


·       Inspect the elements of wind turbine towers

·       Inspect or repair wind turbine equipment, including the blades, gearbox and generators

·       Perform routine maintenance on wind turbines

·       Use equipment and devices to diagnose electrical malfunctions

·       Diagnose and test electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components and systems

·       Repair and replace worn or malfunctioning parts

·       Monitor and collect data for testing or research and analysis

How Do You Become a Wind Turbine Technician?

One way to become a wind turbine technician is to attend a trade school. Trade schools like MIAT College of Technology offer complete curriculums and plenty of hands-on training to help prepare students for entry-level positions as wind turbine technicians.1

Our small class sizes allow students to receive additional attention from instructors and make friendships with classmates. We also offer Career Services that can assist students with building résumés and preparing for interviews to help them find jobs after graduation.1

We have strong industry relationships, and graduates from the Wind Power Technician program at MIAT are prepared for entry-level roles. Our Career Services staff can help identify jobs you’re passionate about and connect you with hiring managers.2

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how wind turbines work, it’s time to learn more about MIAT. In as little as 7 months, you could train to become a wind turbine technician and start working in the renewable energy sector. Take the first step toward a career you’re excited about!

Want to Learn More?

Does a future as a wind turbine technician interest you? Want to have the power of an entire nation at your fingertips? The Wind Turbine Technician program offered at MIAT College of Technology can provide the hands-on training, practical experience and industry support it takes to pursue a career in the wind industry in just 7 months.

To learn more about the Wind Turbine Technician program and to explore whether MIAT is right for you, fill out the form on this page. Contact us today if you are interested in training to become a wind turbine technician.


1MIAT is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit