How do Wind Wheels work?

the abc of alternative wind energies (Logo)The A B C of Wind-Energies and about how Wind Wheels work

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How does Wind Power work?

Several wind parks had been built in low populated areas and offshore with numerous wind turbines generating electric power since the late 90th. In Northern Europe, especially Denmark and Great Britain, where care of the environment and the search for alternative energy sources have reached a high priority, several offshore-projects to generate electricity for their national grid from wind power on big scale are running. Together with other Scandinavian countries they are already ahead of offshore technologies near Germany's North Sea coasts. Do wind wheels work more easily on land in this country? Some regions already operate own wind power stations.

What is profitable and eco-friendly for communities has also encouraged many private investors, who installed little independent power turbines on their roof or built huge windmills on their property to generate clean renewable wind energy. Before operating your own wind power station, you have to get into the knowledge on how do wind wheels work? Is it a realistic option to get enough wind in your area, to generate electricity efficiently and constantly? Will there be an energy surplus that you feed into the public grid or will it just be enough environmentally-friendly wind power to cover the needs for your household?

Windmill Functions: A Quick-Guide for a DIY Wind Wheel

Windmill functions

Huge, energy generating wind turbines follow similar principles as small wind wheels that kids use to play with or that often can be seen at bicycles. The wind hits surface of the blades, which are positioned in a slight angle (pic.1), what causes the rotor to circle around. The constant movement of mostly three blades turns the hub which is connected to an axle that transmits the movement to a shaft inside the nacelle behind the center of the rotors.

Illustration on how does wind power operate

The engine container of wind power plants, which can be up to 7 meters long and 5 meters in diameter, is also called " gondola". When winds push the rotor around, the axle turns the most important part of the whole wind machinery: the generator, - a spindle with a coil of copper wire inside a round magnet (pic.2).

Turning the coil of copper wire inside a magnet induces an electric current. This low electric current is then transformed into high voltage electricity.

Illustration: how to generate wind power with a diy windmill

After the transformer boosts the electricity up to 33.000 volts, this wind power can be fed into the national grid.
People using compact wind turbine generators for their private homes need to transform the electric current, before they can charge batteries and store or use wind electricity (pic.3).

It is vital to guarantee, that the battery is charged constantly as well as overloading will be avoided. Therefore it is a vital advice to install an electronic device, what will spoil electricity, in case the battery is full and there is surplus energy.

The rotor of industrial wind power stations is controlled by a computer system inside the nacelle that keeps the angle of the blades always in an optimal direction to the wind. During dangerous storms or hurricanes the wind turbine will be stopped by the computer system to avoid malfunction or damages of any kind.

There is also a central computer system that monitors and remotes all windmill functions including turbine features and rotor-blades till the generated power is fed into the grid. Private operators of wind turbines are also enabled to fed alternatively generated wind electricity into the public grid. Buying electricity from individuals may relieve regional power supply systems and it can reduce electricity-costs of private wind power generators by using their "home-made" electric power. For interested users it is easy to find out how to build your own windmill to generate at least some power for a few applications at home. For sure, there are disadvantages of wind power and advantages of renewable energies are not without any doubts, but to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, wind power is still one of the cleanest alternatives to fossil energy sources.

How do Wind Turbines generate Electricity?

Function map of a wind wheel gondola

The rotating movement of the huge wind blades is transmitted to a induction spindle inside the nacelle ("gondola"), where it generates an electric current. Afterwards electric generators have to transform this electric current from about 700 volts up to about 33.000 volts, before this clean generated wind electricity is ready to get fed into a public power supply system.

The windmill gondola of a giant offshore wind turbine can be compared to a small factory-hall of about 5 x 20 m surface area high above sea level. Packed with turbine, engines, generator and electronic control systems, this capsule might weight more than 400 tons. Power engineers and technical personal periodically have to work inside the gondola to service the wind technology.

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How do Wind Turbines work and generate Electricity?