Harnessing the Wind

Wind power is the use of the winds air flow through windmills and wind turbines. Windmills and wind turbines are different. They both use wind as a resource, but wind turbines are used generate electricity.

The wind flows over windmill blades that are mounted on a rotor, which causes them to lift or turn like an airplane propeller. The blades are connected to a driveshaft that turns a generator to make electricity. This process converts the kinetic energy of the wind into electrical power. For utility-scale wind energy, large numbers of wind turbines are built close together to form a wind farm.


There are two types of modern wind turbines that generate electricity:

Horizontal-Axis Wind Machine

The traditional horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTS), have been in development for more than a hundred years and is the most common type used today.

This machine is as tall as a 20-story-building! It has three blades that span 200 feet across, and are taller and wider so that they can capture more wind. All the components are on top of a tall tower, and the blades face into the wind. The wind turns the blades that are connected to a generator that makes the electricity.

Vertical-Axis Wind Machine

The vertical axis turbines have the shaft of the blades connected to it vertically to the ground. All the main components are closer to the ground. It has 2 blades that spin around like a giant eggbeater.

They can vary in size from small to large and can stand up to 100 feet tall. They are not as widely used as the horizontal wind turbine as they have a lower-power generation performance.