Wind turbine

Machine which converts wind energy into mechanical and electric energy This article is about wind-powered electrical generators. For wind-powered machinery used to grind grain or pump water, see Windmill and Windpump.

Thorntonbank Wind Farm, using 5 MW turbines REpower 5M in the North Sea off the coast of Belgium.

A wind turbine is a device that converts the wind's kinetic energy into electrical energy.

Wind turbines are manufactured in a wide range of sizes, with either horizontal or vertical axes. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of large turbines, in installations known as wind farms, now generate over 650 gigawatts of power, with 60 GW added each year. They are an increasingly important source of intermittent renewable energy, and are used in many countries to lower energy costs and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. One study claimed that, as of 2009, wind had the "lowest relative greenhouse gas emissions, the least water consumption demands and... the most favourable social impacts" compared to photovoltaic, hydro, geothermal, coal and gas.

Smaller wind turbines are used for applications such as battery charging for auxiliary power for boats or caravans, and to power traffic warning signs. Larger turbines can contribute to a domestic power supply while selling unused power back to the utility supplier via the electrical grid.


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