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How Much Power do Wind Turbines Use

Tip of the hat to Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction for this find.

Al Fin — August 2010

Most people wonder how much power a wind turbine can produce, and never stop to wonder how much power a wind turbine requires to operate. Mechanical engineer Jerry Graf believes that it is long past time for people to ask that question:

Big turbines often incorporate rechargeable batteries or ultracapacitors to power their own electrical systems. When those get depleted, the power must come from the grid. This power goes into running equipment such as yaw mechanisms that keep the blades turned into the wind; blade-pitch controls that meter the spinning rotor; aircraft lights and data-collection electronics; oil heaters, pumps, and coolers for the multi-ton gearbox; and hydraulic brakes for locking blades down in high winds.

Turbines in northern climes also need blade heaters to prevent icing. Reports I’ve seen say these heaters can consume up to 20% of a turbine’s rated power output. Many big turbines also need dehumidifiers and heaters in their nacelles. And until recently, large turbines employed doubly-fed induction generators that bleed power from the grid to create their magnetic fields. (It should be said, though, that designs now on the drawing boards use permanent magnets instead.)

Instances of low or no wind pose another problem. Large turbines may need to use their generators as motors to help get the blades turning. And some wind skeptics have posed a question about the direct-drive turbines now emerging from the labs: Large ships frequently must expend energy to slowly turn their heavy driveshafts when at port to prevent them from sagging. Could the same be said of these superlarge wind turbines?  Continue reading here…..


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5 Comments on “How Much Power do Wind Turbines Use”

  1. windfarmresearch January 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Reblogged this on Wind Turbine Locations, Maps, Lawsuits, Setbacks.

  2. cornwallwindwatch January 13, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

  3. Jordan March 8, 2014 at 11:06 am #


    Thank you for this nice and comprehensive article. From experience the electrical losses are usually between 2 and 3 procent. With offshore wind industry this will be a bit larger.

    I would suggest to also have look at http://www.windbarb.com. It gives you just these answers on how much wind energy is possible for any type of turbine and any location in the World. Knowing and understanding the available resources will help to minimise the risk of investment. Still I believe in a green future.

    best regards

  4. sandcanyongal June 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    This is the most well written and informative article I’ve ever read on wind turbines.

    • Donna Quixote June 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

      I agree. It’s very very easy for even the novice anti-winder to understand.

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