How Does A Windfarm Work?
#4 Today we are considering just some general aspects of a windfarm and how they work. When I wrote this initially in early 2018, most utility scale turbines were on 80-meter towers. Some of the older smaller ones were on shorter towers and newer, larger turbines were being placed on taller towers. And the blades that were being installed were around 150 feet, give or take 20 or 30 feet. A 150-foot blade means the sweep of the rotor is 300 feet…that is a football field. Yes, they are quite large. I hate to be vague here, but each turbine model is unique, and these sizes vary. Add to that, new models continue to get bigger and bigger. As turbine technology advances, the towers get taller and turbines become more efficient thus generating more electricity. These heights and lengths are being eclipsed as turbine technology advances.
The wind turns the rotor, which in turn, turns the shaft. The shaft goes into the gearbox that increases the rpms of the shaft that goes into the generator. This generator is obviously what generates the electricity. That electricity then comes down the tower to a pad mounted transformer that steps up the voltage a little. Some of the newer turbines actually have the transformer inside the tower, either way, each turbine has a small transformer. Once this small transformer steps up the voltage, the electricity goes underground via a buried collection line to a central point in the project. All the turbines are connected with these buried collection lines that go to the project substation. It is here that the main power transformer steps up the voltage again, so the power matches the power at the point of interconnect. Typically, the electricity then leaves the substation via a small overhead transmission line and goes to that point of interconnect. At the point of interconnect will be another facility where the electricity can be injected into the grid.
This is very much a simplistic view of how a windfarm works. Bottom line, a windfarm is a power plant that converts wind energy into electricity that can be consumed by you and I and any other consumer that is along the electricity’s path. Windfarms can't be placed just anywhere, so if you have the opportunity to participate in one with your property, you should seriously consider it. You'll be glad you did.