Simply stated, a wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.
The above description is accurate, but industrial turbines aren’t simply blown in the wind like you see on a wind farm. Turbines in power plants are several meters in diameter, not several hundred feet, and they are operated in enclosed housings near ground level. High-pressure steam spins the turbine rotors at very high speeds, thousands of revolutions per minute. Power plants usually have several stages of turbines at different pressures. The high rotational velocity of the turbine results in the production of large amounts of electricity.
There are a number of different turbines and they work in a number of different ways though the underlying principle is the same. There is the steam turbine where a power plant, usually coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear reactor, is used to create steam and power the turbine as the steam rises through a vertical shaft. “Hydroelectric dams use water turbines in the same way to generate power. The turbines used in a hydroelectric plant look completely different from a steam turbine because water is so much denser (and slower moving) than steam, but it is the same principle.” Wind turbines, also known as wind mills, use the wind as their motive force. A wind turbine looks nothing like a steam turbine or a water turbine because wind is slow moving and very light, but again, the principle is the same. All these turbines create energy by spinning and turning other turbines on a shaft that is connected to a generator to create electricity.
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