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Wind turbine

Wind turbines near Aalborg, Denmark. For scale, a standard doorway can be seen at the base of the pylon.

A wind turbine is a rotating machine that converts the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical energy. If the
mechanical energy is used directly by machinery, such as a pump or grinding stones, the machine is usually called
a windmill. If the mechanical energy is then converted to electricity, the machine is called a wind generator,
wind turbine, wind power unit (WPU) or wind energy converter (WEC) .

This article discusses electric power generation machinery. Windmill discusses machines used for grain-
grinding,water pumping, etc. The article on wind power describes turbine placement, economics, public concerns,
and controversy. The wind energy section of that article describes the distribution of wind energy over time, and
how that affects wind-turbine design. See environmental concerns with electricity generation for discussion of
environmental problems with wind-energy production.

[edit] History
Main article: History of wind power

The world's first megawatt wind turbine at Castleton, Vermont

Wind machines were used for grinding grain in Persia as early as 200 B.C. This type of machine was introduced
into the Roman Empire by 250 A.D. By the 14th century Dutch windmills were in use to drain areas of the Rhine
River delta. In Denmark by 1900 there were about 2500 windmills for mechanical loads such as pumps and mills,
producing an estimated combined peak power of about 30 MW. The first windmill for electricity production was
built in Cleveland, Ohio by Charles F Brush in 1888, and in 1908 there were 72 wind-driven electric generators
from 5 kW to 25 kW. The largest machines were on 24 m (79 ft) towers with four-bladed 23 m (75 ft) diameter
rotors. Around the time of World War I, American windmill makers were producing 100,000 farm windmills each
year, most for water-pumping.[1] By the 1930s windmills for electricity were common on farms, mostly in the
United States where distribution systems had not yet been installed. In this period, high-tensile steel was cheap,
and windmills were placed atop prefabricated open steel lattice towers.

A forerunner of modern horizontal-axis wind generators was in service at Yalta, USSR in 1931. This was a 100
kW generator on a 30 m (100 ft) tower, connected to the local 6.3 kV distribution system. It was reported to have
an annual capacity factor of 32 per cent, not much different from current wind machines.

The very first electricity generating windmill operated in the UK was a battery charging machine installed in 1887
by James Blyth in Scotland. The first utility grid-connected wind turbine operated in the UK was built by the John
Brown Company in 1954 in the Orkney Islands. It had an 18 metre diameter, three-bladed rotor and a rated output
of 100 kW.

[edit] Potential turbine power

Main article: Wind turbine design

Wind Turbine Power Coefficent

The amount of power transferred to a wind turbine is directly proportional to the density of the air, the area swept
out by the rotor, and the cube of the wind speed.

The usable power P available in the wind is given by:

where P = power in watts, α = an efficiency factor determined by the design of the turbine, ρ = mass density of air
in kilograms per cubic meter, r = radius of the wind turbine in meters, and v = velocity of the air in meters per

As the wind turbine extracts energy from the air flow, the air is slowed down, which causes it to spread out.
Albert Betz, a German physicist, determined in 1919 (see Betz' law) that a wind turbine can extract at most 59%
of the energy that would otherwise flow through the turbine's cross section, that is α can never be higher than 0.59
in the above equation. The Betz limit applies regardless of the design of the turbine.

This equation shows the effects of the mass rate of flow of air travelling through the turbine, and the energy of
each unit mass of air flow due to its velocity. As an example, on a cool 15 °C (59 °F) day at sea level, air density
is 1.225 kilograms per cubic metre. An 8 m/s (28.8 km/h or 18 mi/h) breeze blowing through a 100 meter
diameter rotor would move almost 77,000 kilograms of air per second through the swept area. The total power of
the example breeze through a 100 meter diameter rotor would be about 2.5 megawatts. Betz' law states that no
more than 1.5 megawatts could be extracted.

[edit] Types of wind turbines

Wind turbines can be separated into two types based by the axis in which the turbine rotates. Turbines that rotate
around a horizontal axis are more common. Vertical-axis turbines are less frequently used.

[edit] Horizontal axis

Horizontal-axis wind turbines(HAWT) have the main rotor shaft and electrical generator at the top of a tower, and
must be pointed into the wind. Small turbines are pointed by a simple wind vane, while large turbines generally
use a wind sensor coupled with a servo motor. Most have a gearbox, which turns the slow rotation of the blades
into a quicker rotation that is more suitable to drive a generator.

Since a tower produces turbulence behind it, the turbine is usually pointed upwind of the tower. Turbine blades
are made stiff to prevent the blades from being pushed into the tower by high winds. Additionally, the blades are
placed a considerable distance in front of the tower and are sometimes tilted up a small amount.

Downwind machines have been built, despite the problem of turbulence, because they don't need an additional
mechanism for keeping them in line with the wind, and because in high winds, the blades can be allowed to bend
which reduces their swept area and thus their wind resistance. Since turbulence leads to fatigue failures, and
reliability is so important, most HAWTs are upwind machines.

[edit] HAWT Subtypes

There are several types of HAWT:

Doesburger windmill, Ede, The Netherlands

These squat structures, typically (at-least) four-bladed, usually with wooden shutters or fabric sails, were
developed in Europe. These windmills were pointed into the wind manually or via a tail-fan and were
typically used to grind grain. In the Netherlands they were also used to pump water from low-lying land,
and were instrumental in keeping its polders dry. Windmills were also located throughout the USA,
especially in the Northeastern region.
Modern Rural Windmills
The Eclipse windmill factory was set up around 1866 in Beloit, Wisconsin and soon became a huge success
building mills for farm water pumping and railroad tank filling. Other firms like Star, Dempster, and Aeromotor
also entered the market. Hundreds of thousands of these mills were produced before rural electrification and small
numbers continue to be made.[1] They typically had many blades, operated at tip speed ratios (defined below) not
better than one, and had good starting torque. Some had small direct-current generators used to charge storage
batteries, to provide a few lights, or to operate a radio receiver. The American rural electrification connected many
farms to centrally-generated power and replaced individual windmills as a primary source of farm power by the
1950's. They were also produced in other countries like South Africa and Australia (where an American design
was copied in 1876[3]). Such devices are still used in locations where it is too costly to bring in commercial power.

Water pumping rural windmill in Germany.

In Schiedam, the Netherlands, a traditional style windmill (the Noletmolen) was built in 2005 to generate
electricity.[4] The mill is one of the tallest Tower mills in the world, being some 42.5 metres (139 ft) tall.

Common modern wind turbines

Turbines used in wind farms for commercial production of electric power are usually three-bladed and pointed
into the wind by computer-controlled motors. This type is produced by Danish and other manufacturers. These
have high tip speeds of up to six times the wind speed, high efficiency, and low torque ripple which contributes to
good reliability. The blades are usually colored light gray to blend in with the clouds and range in length from 20
to 40 metres (65 to 130 ft) or more. The tubular steel towers range from about 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 metres)
high. The blades rotate at 10-22 revolutions per minute.[5][6] A gear box is commonly used to step up the speed of
the generator, though there are also designs that use direct drive of an annular generator. Some models operate at
constant speed, but more energy can be collected by variable-speed turbines which use a solid-state power
converter to interface to the transmission system. All turbines are equipped with high wind shut down features to
avoid over speed damage.

[edit] HAWT advantages

• Blades are to the side of the turbine's center of gravity, helping stability.
• Ability to wing warp, which gives the turbine blades the best angle of attack. Allowing the angle of attack
to be remotely adjusted gives greater control, so the turbine collects the maximum amount of wind energy
for the time of day and season.
• Ability to pitch the rotor blades in a storm, to minimize damage.
• Tall tower allows access to stronger wind in sites with wind shear. In some wind shear sites, every ten
meters up, the wind speed can increase by 20% and the power output by 34%..

[edit] HAWT disadvantages

• HAWTs have difficulty operating in near ground, turbulent winds.
• The tall towers and long blades up to 90 meters long are difficult to transport on the sea and on land.
Transportation can now cost 20% of equipment costs.
• Tall HAWTs are difficult to install, needing very tall and expensive cranes and skilled operators.
• The FAA has raised concerns about tall HAWTs effects on radar near Air Force bases.
• Their height can create local opposition based on impacts to viewsheds.
• Downwind variants suffer from fatigue and structural failure caused by turbulence.

[edit] Cyclic stresses and vibration

Cyclic stresses fatigue the blade, axle and bearing material failures were a major cause of turbine failure for many
years. Because wind velocity often increases at higher altitudes, the backward force and torque on a horizontal-
axis wind turbine (HAWT) blade peaks as it turns through the highest point in its circle. The tower hinders the
airflow at the lowest point in the circle, which produces a local dip in force and torque. These effects produce a
cyclic twist on the main bearings of an HAWT. The combined twist is worst in machines with an even number of
blades, where one is straight up when another is straight down. To improve reliability, teetering hubs have been
used which allow the main shaft to rock through a few degrees, so that the main bearings do not have to resist the
torque peaks.

When the turbine turns to face the wind, the rotating blades act like a gyroscope. As it pivots, gyroscopic
precession tries to twist the turbine into a forward or backward somersault. For each blade on a wind generator's
turbine, precessive force is at a minimum when the blade is horizontal and at a maximum when the blade is
vertical. This cyclic twisting can quickly fatigue and crack the blade roots, hub and axle of the turbines.

[edit] Vertical axis

Vertical-axis wind turbines (or VAWTs) have the rotor shaft arranged vertically . VAWTs are usally situated
closer to the ground since they can utilise turbulent winds , also , the air has a higher density at low altitude and
therfore carries more energy at a given wind speed .

[edit] VAWT subtypes

30 m Darrieus wind turbine in the Magdalen Islands

Darrieus wind turbine
"Eggbeater" turbines. They have good efficiency, but produce large torque ripple and cyclic stress on the
tower, which contributes to poor reliability. Also, they generally require some external power source, or an
additional Savonius rotor, to start turning, because the starting torque is very low. The torque ripple is
reduced by using 3 or more blades which results in a higher solidity for the rotor. Solidity is measured by
blade area over the rotor area. Newer Darrieus type turbines are not held up by guy wires but have an
external superstructure connected to the top bearing.
Gorlov helical turbine
Essentially a darrieus turbine in a helical configuration. Patented in 2001. It solves most of the problems
of the Darrieus rotor. It is self-starting, has lower torque ripple, low vibration and noise, and low cyclic
stress. High reliability is expected from tested or matured designs. At least two wind turbine products are
on the market as of 2212, including the Turby wind turbine and the Quietrevolution wind turbine. Most
importantly, the GHT is an excellent turbine for zero-head hydropower, and appears to be a much needed
ecologically benign and affordable solution for micro-hydropower. It is up to 35% efficient, which is
competitive with the most efficient VAWT's.
A subtype of Darrieus turbine with straight, as opposed to curved, blades. The cycloturbine variety have
variable pitch to reduce the torque pulsation and are self-starting [1]. The advantages of variable pitch are:
high starting torque; a wide, relatively flat torque curve; a lower blade speed ratio; a higher coefficient of
performance; more efficient operation in turbulent winds; and a lower blade speed ratio which lowers
blade bending stresses. Straight, V, or curved blades may be used. Recently , this type of turbine has been
advanced by former Russian rocket scientists who claim to have increased the efficiency of the VAWT up
to 38% . A company , SRC Vertical Ltd.[2] has been formed , and has begun selling the new turbine .

12 m Windmill with rotational sails in the Osijek, Croatia

Savonius wind turbine
These are drag-type devices with two- (or more) scoops that are used in anemometers, the Flettner vents
(commonly seen on bus and van roofs), and in some high-reliability low-efficiency power turbines. They
are always self-starting if there are at least three scoops. They sometimes have long helical scoops to give
a smooth torque. The Banesh rotor and especially the Rahai rotor improve efficiency with blades shaped
to produce significant lift as well as drag. A new variety uses sails that can open or close with changes in
wind speed.

[edit] VAWT advantages

• Can be easier to maintain if the moving parts are located near the ground. This is due to the shape of some
VAWTs , the airfoils or rotor blades are connected by arms to a shaft that sits on a bearing and drives a
generator below, usually by first connecting to a gearbox.
• As the rotor blades are vertical, a yaw device is not needed, reducing the need for this bearing and its cost.
• VAWTs have a higher airfoil pitch angle, giving improved aerodynamics while decreasing drag at low and
high pressures.
• Straight bladed VAWT designs with a square or rectangular crossection have a larger swept area for a
given diameter than the circular swept area of HAWTs .
• Mesas, hilltops, ridgelines and passes can have faster more powerful winds near the ground because the
wind is forced up a slope or funnelled into a pass and into the path of VAWTs situated close to the ground .
• Low height useful where laws do not permit structures to be placed high.
• Does not need a free standing tower so is much less expensive and stronger in high winds that are close to
the ground.
• Usually have a lower Tip-Speed ratio so less likely to break in high winds.
• Does not need to turn to face the wind if the wind direction changes making them ideal in turbulent wind
conditions .
• They can potentially be built to a far larger size than HAWT's , for instance floating VAWT's hundreds of
meters in diameter where the entire vessel rotates , can eliminate the need for a large and expensive
bearing .
• Newer carbon composite blades are lightweight and easier to install.

[edit] VAWT disadvantages

• Most VAWTs produce energy at only 50% of the efficiency of HAWTs in large part because of the
additional drag that they have as their blades rotate into the wind. This can be overcome by using
structures to funnel more and align the wind into the rotor (e.g. "stators" on early Windstar turbines) or the
"vortex" effect of placing straight bladed VAWTs closely together (e.g. Patent # 6784566).
• There may be a height limitation to how tall a vertical wind turbine can be built and how much sweep area
it can have. However , this can be overcome by connecting a multiple number of turbines together in a
triangular pattern with bracing across the top of the structure . Thus reducing the need for such strong
vertical support , and allowing the turbine blades to be made much longer .
• Most VAWTS need to be installed on a relatively flat piece of land and some sites could be too steep for
them but are still usable by HAWTs.
• Most VAWTs have low starting torque, and may require energy to start the turning.
• A VAWT that uses guy wires to hold it in place puts stress on the bottom bearing as all the weight of the
rotor is on the bearing. Guy wires attached to the top bearing increase downward thrust in wind gusts.
Solving this problem requires a superstructure to hold a top bearing in place to eliminate the downward
thrusts of gust events in guy wired models.
• While VAWTs' parts are located on the ground, they are also located under the weight of the structure
above it, which can make changing out parts near impossible without dismantling the structure if not
designed properly.

Wind turbines on the Lake Erie shore at Lackawanna, New York

[edit] Locations
Main article: Wind power

Wind turbines can also be classified by the location in which they are to be used. Onshore, offshore, or even aerial
wind turbines have unique design characteristics, which are explained in more detail in the section on turbine
design and construction.

[edit] Turbine design and construction

Main article: Wind turbine design
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.

Virtually all modern wind turbines convert wind energy to electricity for energy distribution. As described, the
modern wind turbine is a system that comprises three integral components with distinct disciplines of engineering
science. The rotor component, which is approximately 20% of the wind turbine cost, includes the blades for
converting wind energy to an intermediate low speed rotational energy. The generator component, which is
approximately 34% of the wind turbine cost, includes the electrical generator, the control electronics, and most
likely a gearbox component for converting the low speed rotational energy to electricity. The structural support
component, which is approximately 15% of the wind turbine cost, includes the tower for optimally situating the
rotor component to the wind energy source.[7]

[edit] Special wind turbines

Main article: Special wind turbines

One E-66 wind turbine at Windpark Holtriem, Germany carries an observation deck, open for visitors to see.
Another turbine of the same type, with an observation deck, is located in Swaffham, England.

A series of lighter-than-air wind turbines are in development in Canada by Magenn Power. They deliver power to
the ground by a tether system.[8]

Wind turbines may also be used in conjunction with a large vertical solar updraft tower to extract the energy due
to air heated by the Sun.

Variable pitch wind turbines are another special (yet low-cost) design. Designs such as the Jacobs are said to be
inexpensive, highly efficient and usable in diy-construction. [9]

[edit] Small wind turbines

Small wind turbines may be as small as a four hundred watt generators for residential use. The small ones often
have direct drive generators, direct current output, aeroelastic blades, lifetime bearings and use a vane to point
into the wind. Larger, more costly turbines generally have geared power trains, alternating current output, flaps
and are actively pointed into the wind. Direct drive generators and aeroelastic blades for large wind turbines are
being researched.

A small wind turbine can be installed on a roof. Installation issues then include the strength of the roof, vibration,
and the turbulence caused by the roof ledge. A small-scale, rooftop wind turbine is said to be able to generate
power from 10% to up to 25% of the electricity requirements of a regular house. [10]

Small-scale wind power in rural Indiana.

Small scale turbines for residential-scale use are available that are approximately 7 feet (2 m) to 25 feet (8 m) in
diameter and produce electricity at a rate of 900 watts to 10,000 watts at their tested wind speed. Some units are
designed to be very lightweight, e.g. 16 kilograms (35 lb), allowing rapid response to wind gusts typical of urban
settings and easy mounting much like a television antenna. It is claimed that they are inaudible even a few feet
under the turbine.[citation needed] Dynamic braking regulates the speed by dumping excess energy, so that the turbine
continues to produce electricity even in high winds. The dynamic braking resistor may be installed inside the
building to provide heat (during high winds when more heat is lost by the building, while more heat is also
produced by the braking resistor). The location makes low voltage (around 12 volt) distribution practical.

Residential wind turbines typically cost between $12,000 and $55,000, but there are incentives and rebates
available in 19 states in the U.S. that can cut the purchase price by up to 50 percent.[11]

The American Wind Energy Association has released several studies on the small wind turbine market in the U.S.
and abroad, showing that the U.S. continues to dominate the Small Wind industry.[3] According to another
organization, the World Wind Energy Association, it is difficult to assess the total number or capacity of small-
scaled wind turbines, but in China alone, there are roughly 300,000 small-scale wind turbines generating

The dominant models on the market, especially in the United States, are horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWT).

There have been a number of recent developments of mini-turbines which could be adapted to home use,

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• The AeroTecture vertical-axis turbine[13]

• The AeroVironment Architectural Wind Project[14][15]
• The piezoelectric windmill project[16]
• The Swift home wind turbine.[17] The Swift project peaked in 2004 and has had some implementation
difficulties while promising to be a low-noise/safe roof-mount/low-cost alternative[18]
• The Motorwave micro-wind turbine[19][20][21]

[edit] DIY Wind turbines

With a growing DIY-community and an increasing interest in environmentally friendly "green energy", some
hobbyists have endeavored to build their own wind turbines from kits, sourced components, or from scratch. DIY-
wind turbine construction has been made popular by diy magazines as OtherPower, Home Power magazine[22],
websites as Instructables, and by TV-series as Jericho and The Time Machine. DIY-made wind turbines are
usually smaller (rooftop) turbines of ~ 1kW or less. [23][24] [25]These small wind turbines are usually tilt-up or
fixed/guyed towers [26] However, larger (freestanding) and more powerful windtubines are sometimes built as
well. The latter can generate power of up to 10kw [27] In addition, people are also showing interest in DIY-
construction of wind turbines with special designs as the Savonius, Panemone, Savonius wind turbine(to boost
power generation).[28] [29] When compared to similar sized commercial wind turbines, these DIY turbines tend to
be cheaper. [30] [31]Through the internet, the community is now able to obtain plans to construct DIY-wind
turbines.[32][33] [34][35] [36] [37] and there is a growing trend toward building them for domestic requirements. The DIY-
wind turbines are now being used both in developed countries and in developing countries, to help power
residences and small businesses. At present, organisations as Practical Action have designed DIY wind turbines
that can be easily build by communities in developing nations and are supplying concrete documents on how to
do so. [38] [39]To assist people in the developing countries, and hobbyists alike, several projects have been open-
sourced (eg. with the Jua Kali wind turbine, Hugh Piggot's wind tubine, ForceField Wind Turbine, ...)[40]

[edit] Records
The world's largest turbines are manufactured by the Northern German companies Enercon and REpower. The
Enercon E-126 delivers up to 6 MW, has an overall height of 198 m (650 ft) and a diameter of 126 meters (413
ft). The Repower 5M delivers up to 5 MW, has an overall height of 183 m (600 ft) and has a diameter of 126 m
(413 ft).

The turbine closest to the North Pole is a Nordex N-80 in Havoygelvan near Hammerfest, Norway. The ones
closest to the South Pole are two Enarcan E-30 in Antarctica, used to power the Australian Research Division's
Mawson Station.[41]