Parts of Wind Turbines
Energy technicians all over the world utilize wind turbines to harness electricity powered by wind. While the concept of a wind turbine is simple enough, planning for and developing a wind farm is no simple task. For those interested in a wind energy career, these four turbine parts will become integral pieces of your everyday work life.
The Wind Turbine Base
The base, by definition, is the lower part of a complete architectural design. Its entire job is to keep the structure (in this case, the wind turbine) steady and in place. Because of the turbine’s extreme height, bases are built especially thick. Most are made of concrete, which is reinforced with steel bars. Their sizes vary from wind farm to wind farm, but a typical turbine base has a 40-foot diameter and is about three feet thick.
The Wind Turbine Tower
Standing nearly 200 feet tall, towers often allow wind farms to be spotted from several miles away. Cylindrical in shape and composed of pure steel, the turbine towers are constructed with ladders on the inside so wind technicians can easily climb up and perform maintenance tasks.
The Wind Turbine Blades
Turbine blades use lift, just like airplane wings, to gather the wind’s energy. A pressure pocket builds up because of the blade’s unique design, and then that wind pressure forces the blade to spin. Their size prevents them from rotating more than about 20 revolutions per minute, but the blade tips can reach speeds of about 150 mile per hour. Blades are essentially the sails of the wind turbine.
The Wind Turbine Nacelle
Serving as the “brain” of the wind turbine, the nacelle holds both a gearbox and a generator. The generator controls the turbine’s gears, which work in accordance with the wind to determine blades’ rotation speeds. As the blades spin, so do the gears, which produces the electricity. Technicians can set the generator at a fixed speed or it can vary depending on how fast the wind is blowing. Generators set to a fixed speed generally don’t require much attention, but varied generators are able to take advantage of the changing wind speeds. The nacelle lives between the tower and blades and is the turbine part that requires the most consideration and maintenance.
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