Wind turbines are designed to exploit the wind energy that exists at a location. Aerodynamic modeling is used to determine the optimum tower height, control systems, number of blades and blade shape. Wind turbines convert wind energy to electricity for distribution. Conventional horizontal axis turbines can be divided into three components.
1) The rotor component, which is approximately 20% of the wind turbine cost, includes the blades for converting wind energy to low speed rotational energy.
2) The generator component, which is approximately 34% of the wind turbine cost, includes the electrical generator, the control electronics, and most likely a gearbox (e.g. planetary gearbox, adjustable-speed drive or continuously variable transmission) component for converting the low speed incoming rotation to high speed rotation suitable for generating electricity.
3) The structural support component, which is approximately 15% of the wind turbine cost, includes the tower and rotor yaw mechanism.
Types of wind turbines include Verticle Axis – VAWT & Horizontal Axis – HAWT
A 1.5 MW wind turbine of a type frequently seen in the United States has a tower 80 meters high. The rotor assembly (blades and hub) weighs 48,000 pounds (22,000 kg). The nacelle, which contains the generator component, weighs 115,000 pounds (52,000 kg). The concrete base for the tower is constructed using 58,000 pounds (26,000 kg) of reinforcing steel and contains 250 cubic yards (190 cubic meters) of concrete. The base is 50 feet (15 m) in diameter and 8 feet (2.4 m) thick near the center.