In our last blog post, we talked about the various types of windmills and their functions. Today, we’re going to be zeroing in a little more closely on a specific type of windmill: a wind turbine.

What Is A Wind Turbine?Wind turbines turning wind energy into electricity

As we previously discussed, a wind turbine is a kind of windmill that is specifically used to generate electricity. Through the 1900s and early 2000s, as concerns about the impact of global warming began to grow, wind turbines started to become more and more commonly seen as one potential solution to the problem of burning fossil fuels. The reason for this is that instead of burning fossil fuels, wind turbines simply harness one of the forms of renewable energy that the planet will not run out of: the wind.

How Does A Wind Turbine Function?

Wind turbines catch the kinetic energy of the wind and turn it into electricity. Like a fan, a wind turbine is set up with propeller-Esque blades on a turbine. When the wind blows into the blades, they begin to spin a generator, and that creates electricity.

More specifically, the aerodynamic forces from the rotor blades are what really make a wind turbine work. The flowing of the wind across a blade results in the air pressure on one side of the blade diminishing. The discrepancy between the pressure levels of the two sides of the blade results in both lift and drag (two of the fundamental forces of flight). However, there is a greater amount of lift than drag when this happens, and thus the blade is propelled forward and the rotor begins to spin. The rotor is connected to a generator, and when that rotor is spinning fast enough, the generator is able to generate electricity.

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the wind turbine, the better. This is because the higher the altitude, the stronger the winds tend to be, and as a result, the more power that the wind turbine can be able to generate. Thus, wind turbines are starting to be built taller and taller, so that they can capture more natural energy from the wind. This is also why wind turbines are especially useful in regions with high altitudes, such as the Rocky Mountain states.

Where Are They Used?

Because wind turbines tend to generate a lot of noise, they aren’t used too commonly in residential or busy areas. However, the portions of the United States that have a lot of open, rural land-states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana- are excellent places to utilize wind turbines and thus have the most wind turbines. Also, as mentioned above, areas with high altitudes are particularly good for wind turbines due to the increased power of the wind. They can even be used in bodies of water!

 

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