How Does a Wind Turbine Work?

A wind turbine operates on a simple principle: The wind turns the blades, which spins a shaft, which generates mechanical energy. When wind blows against the blade of a wind turbine, it causes the rotor to turn. The rotor is mounted to the turbine at the hub, where it turns a shaft that is connected to the turbine’s drive train.

The generator converts the rotational energy of the spinning rotor into electrical energy. The shaft, drive train and generator are covered by a protective enclosure called a nacelle.

Once turbines are spinning, the electricity produced is collected through underground cables that connect each turbine. The electricity from the turbines is collected at a substation, where the power is transferred to the power grid and is delivered to homes, buildings and factories.

The wind turbines begin to operate at wind speeds of around 10 mph and reach maximum production at 35 mph. To protect the machine from damage, the turbines will stop generating power at wind speeds exceeding 56 mph. A sophisticated computer system controls all the shut-down and start-up operations for the turbines.

Wind Power is Clean

Electricity from wind is a source of clean, inexhaustible energy that produces virtually no pollution or emissions. It also doesn’t require water to generate electricity or for cooling, which avoids the consumption of more than 30 billion gallons of water each year. Wind is reliable, proven and can play an important role in diversifying our nation’s power portfolio.

Wind is Affordable

Wind energy is now one of the most cost-effective sources of new energy. It costs less than new coal or nuclear power. Technological advancements in recent years have enhanced turbine performance and reliability, and lowered costs.

Wind is American Made

US wind energy is produced by Americans for Americans. More than 400 US manufacturing plants build components for wind turbine components, towers and blades, and more than 50 percent of a US-installed turbine’s value is now produced in America. This is a 12-fold increase in just the last three years.