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How does a wind turbine generate electricity?

A wind turbine works by catching the energy in the wind, using it to turn the blades, and converting the energy to electricity through a generator in the part of the turbine called a nacelle. While some turbines are direct drive, most have a gear box that increases and controls generator speed. Most turbines produce direct current (DC) which has to be converted to alternating current (AC) power for home usage by use of an inverter. The turbine is only one part of the system, however. A tower will put the blades high in the air where the wind is better. If the turbine produces more energy than consumers can use at that moment, the excess power can either be sold to a local utility or stored in batteries for later usage. For systems with batteries, a controller manages the electrical input to the batteries. In an off-grid system, or an on-grid system with battery back-up, batteries will store the power.


Cole Gustafson, North Dakota State University
Irene Shonle, Colorado State University

NDSU, Dept. 7620

P.O. Box 6050

Fargo, ND  58108-6050

Phone: 701.231.7261

Fax: 701.231.1008

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