An increase in demand for renewable energy and electricity required worldwide is driving the growth in the wind turbine component market. While wind turbines may seem minimalistic to the average eye, they consist of various components that allow them to transform the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical power to ultimately generate electricity.
Wind turbine components
Modern wind turbines come in different sizes, but they generally consist of these main components:
Rotor blades generate aerodynamic torque from the wind and resemble aircraft wings. One side is flat, while the other side is curved to allow wind to flow quicker over the blade edge to create a difference in pressure on both sides of the blade. To equalize this pressure difference, the air effectively pushes the blades and causes them to turn.
The nacelle consists of the drivetrain that converts the aerodynamic torque into electrical power. It contains a set of gears that translate the blade rotation speed from a low-speed shaft to a high-speed shaft that goes into a generator in the nacelle. The generator is connected to the converter, which can convert the speed from the generator to grid-frequency. This is then transformed into the grid.
The tower holds the nacelle and rotor blades off the ground at a height to garner ideal wind speed. Towers are typically constructed approximately 50 to 100 meters above ground or water surface. Offshore tower foundations are generally secured to the bottom of the body of water, but research is being done to develop towers that can float on the water surface. The tower also provides access to the nacelle for maintenance.