Wind turbines work on a basic theory. Two or three propeller-like blades spin around a turbine as a result of the wind’s force. The rotor is attached to the main shaft, which produces electricity by rotating a generator.

Wind Direction

Determines the turbine’s configuration. Upwind turbines, such as this one, face the wind, while downwind turbines face away from it.

The Blades

When wind blows over them, they lift and rotate, allowing the rotor to spin. The majority of turbines have two or three blades.

landscape viw of 7 wind turbines

The Rotor 

The rotor is made up of the blades and the hub.

Low-Speed Shaft

The low-speed shaft is rotated at 30-60 rpm.

Illustration showing the internals of a wind turbine


Connects the low-speed shaft to the high-speed shaft, increasing rotational speeds from 30-60 revolutions per minute (rpm) to 1,000-1,800 rpm, which is the rotational speed used by most generators to generate electricity. The gear box is an expensive (and heavy) component of a wind turbine, so engineers are looking at “direct-drive” generators that run at lower rotational speeds and do not need gear boxes.

The engine is powered by a high speed shaft.

wheat fields showing a single wind turbine


A 60-cycle AC generator is normally an off-the-shelf induction generator that produces 60-cycle AC electricity.


This piece of equipment tests wind speed and transfers the information to the controller.

The Pitch System

Blades are rotated (or pitched) away from the wind to regulate rotor speed to prevent the rotor from rotating in winds that are too strong or too low to create electricity.

The Brake

In an emergency, the rotor is stopped manually, electrically, or hydraulically.

The Wind Vain

The wind vane measures wind speed and works with the yaw drive in order to better position the turbine in relation to the wind.

Detailed drawing showing yaw motor

The Yaw Drive

When the wind direction shifts, it orients upwind turbines to keep them facing the wind. Downwind turbines don’t need a yaw drive because the rotor is manually blown away from it by the wind.

Yaw Motor

The yaw drive is driven by the yaw motor.

The Tower

Tubular steel (as shown), concrete, or steel lattice are used to build this structure. The arrangement of the turbine is supported by this component. Taller towers enable turbines to absorb more energy and produce more electricity because wind speed increases with height.


The gear box, low- and high-speed shafts, engine, controller, and brake are all situated atop the platform. Some of the nacelles are big enough to land a helicopter on.

Images sourced from:

Successful Test for Superconducting 3.6 Megawatt Wind Turbine

Lightning and surge protection for wind turbine system