5 NOVIEMBRE 2020
Wind turbines: The evolution of windmills
Wind power, which is generated from the movement of the wind, is produced by installing wind turbines on wind farms, thus converting natural wind power into electric power.
Wind turbines are very large-scale “windmills” made up of various units that help in this energy conversion process. The various parts of the wind turbines are described below:
- Tower: This is the part that supports the nacelle and rotor. It can be made of steel or lattice, but steel is the most common material since lattice, although cheaper, tends to be more uncomfortable and unsafe for workers.
- Rotor: The rotor consists of the blade set and the cylinder that joins them. It is used to transform the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. There are also different types.
- Variable pitch rotor: Allows the blades to rotate on themselves.
- Fixed pitch rotor: The blades cannot be turned.
- Blades: The blades are the devices that collect energy from the wind. They are very similar to the wings of an airplane, extremely large (almost 20 meters each) and usually come in sets of 3. They can be made of polyester or fiberglass reinforced epoxy.
- Nacelle: This contains the key elements of the wind turbines that transform the mechanical power of the rotor into electric power. On the outside they have an anemometer and a wind vane that provide continuous information to the entire system.
- Gearbox: It multiplies the rotational speed that reaches the rotor by adapting it to the generator’s requirements. This movement is usually quite slow; the normal turbine speed is 10- 20 rpm, but the gearbox will increase this speed up to 1,500 rpm.
- Generator: It is located inside the nacelle and helps transform mechanical power into electric power. It can be synchronous (which provides higher quality power but is more expensive) or asynchronous.
- Electronic controller: A computer controls the operating conditions of the wind turbine, using for this purpose signals captured by sensors that measure temperatures, pressures, speed, wind direction…
In addition to these items, turbines also have hydraulic and yaw systems that help drive the pitch of the blades on their axis and always position the rotor perpendicular to the wind.
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