Wind Power: What Materials Are Used To Make Wind Turbines?

In 2020, wind turbines were the source of roughly 8.4% of total US utility-scale electricity generation.

Yet, the government planned wind energy to be 10% of total electricity generation by 2020. Even though they missed this target, they still plan to generate 20% of the electricity demand using wind energy by 2030.

As wind turbines become more popular, many wonder about how they work. So, let’s dive in and discuss the process of making and using turbines.

How Do Wind Turbines Work?

Wind turbines use the wind to make electricity. The wind turns the wind turbine blades around a rotor. In turn, the rotor spins like a generator and creates electricity. 

Horizontal Wind Turbine

The standard model is the horizontal axis wind turbine which dominates the wind industry. The rotating axis is parallel to the ground. Horizontal wind turbines are advantageous because they produce more electricity from a given amount of wind. 

You will see these wind farms on land and offshore in large bodies of water. While land-based turbines are more cost-effective when placed together, offshore turbines capture vast amounts of energy from powerful ocean winds. 

Further, offshore wind turbines have fewer transportation challenges because they travel on ships rather than roads.

Vertical Wind Turbine

The rotational axis of a vertical wind turbine stands perpendicular to the ground. Some data shows these turbines work well in rough wind conditions. They can generate power from all 360 degrees. Sometimes they can generate power when the wind blows top to bottom too.

Most small wind electric systems and residential wind turbine projects use vertical turbines. They are ideal for unstable weather conditions or areas that aren’t high enough to get steady wind.

While not everyone can have their own wind power, some places are excellent for a distributive system. These include residential, agricultural, and small commercial applications.

Materials For Wind Turbines

Each wind turbine has three main parts: the tower, nacelle, and rotor blades.

A 2015 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory states the materials that make wind turbines are:

  • Steel (71-79%)
  • Fiberglass, resin, or plastic (11-16%)
  • Iron or cast iron (5-17%)
  • Copper (1%)
  • Aluminum (0-2%)

Wind turbine manufacturers also use crushed stone, clay, shale, gypsum, and limestone for cement. In addition, each wind turbine tower has concrete with steel to withstand harsh environmental conditions. 

Wind turbines have many components inside the nacelle, like the generator. This section contains mechanical parts. Cobalt, rare Earth oxides, baron, and neodymium are essential materials to manufacture magnets and batteries. 

Additionally, the rotor blades need foams, polymers, and rubbers to help with stiffness.

Explore More About Wind Turbines 

Wind turbines are undoubtedly becoming more important in generating renewable energy. However, manufacturing turbines requires many different materials and processes. Still, their production continues to grow.

If you’re interested in learning more about wind turbines, reach out to us at Kor-Pak Corporation. Our experts can guide you through the components of turbines.

Posted in Wind Turbines.