The Power of Wind
Wind turbines harness the wind—a clean, free, and widely available renewable energy source—to generate electric power.
The animation below is interactive. You can start and stop the turbine’s movement, hover over parts to see their description, and use the icons in the lower right corner of the animation to switch views.
A wind turbine turns wind energy into electricity using the aerodynamic force from the rotor blades, which work like an airplane wing or helicopter rotor blade. When wind flows across the blade, the air pressure on one side of the blade decreases. The difference in air pressure across the two sides of the blade creates both lift and drag. The force of the lift is stronger than the drag and this causes the rotor to spin. The rotor connects to the generator, either directly (if it’s a direct drive turbine) or through a shaft and a series of gears (a gearbox) that speed up the rotation and allow for a physically smaller generator. This translation of aerodynamic force to the rotation of a generator creates electricity.
Having trouble? Read the text version of this animation.