Wind power has been harnessed by humans for a variety of purposes throughout history. Some of these uses include sailing ships, windmills and, more recently, power generation. Today, it is used to generate approximately 200 gigawatts of power throughout the world. Wind turbines are commonly used throughout Europe, but China currently has the world’s highest wind power capacity of any country. There have been at least 9 accidents relating directly to power generation from wind, but it is still considered to be one of the safest and environmentally friendly methods of power generation. You may have seen the large wind turbines that are used to generate this power, but have you ever wondered how they work?
How do wind turbines work?
Even though they may look like complex and futuristic machines, wind turbines are actually quite simple. They are made up of propellers, a shaft and a generator. The propellers are designed to spin in the wind. This spinning motion turns the shaft, which powers the generator and creates electricity.
How does a wind turbine create electricity?
The generator is made of magnets and some form of conductor (copper wire is common). The magnets are fixed to the shaft and rotate above the conductor. As the magnets rotate it produces an electric current, which is how all electrical generators work. The electricity produced by wind turbines is sent to the grid for storage or to power homes and business.