The majority of people in America have never been near a wind farm or seen a wind turbine, let alone climb one. However, one lucky Arcadia employee was able to climb inside one on her visit to Denmark and get a closer look. Here’s what she found:
Being close to such a revolutionary source of energy was fascinating. We were able to see inside and around the wind turbine to better understand how it works and appreciate its technology. The wind turbine we climbed was not the tallest wind turbine out there, but it was still about 50 meters high and had 750 kW capacity, enough to power 100 homes.
Wind Turbine Anatomy
There are four main parts to a wind turbine: the foundation, the tower, the nacelle, and the rotor.
The foundation holds up the wind turbine and the tower connects everything. It’s connected to the nacelle and rotor and is used to climb to the top of the tower. Some towers have elevators, but the one we climbed had ladders that took us all the way to the top.
1. The Foundation
Our tour started at the base of the wind turbine. This is where engineers (and tourists like us) can enter the turbine to get to the top. The foundation houses the power source for the blades, and is where the blades can be turned on and off in case of emergency or maintenance.
2. The Tower
Climbing up 20 sets of ladders was exhausting, but it showed us how monstrous and powerful even the smaller wind turbines are. This turbine was made up of about 10 sections, each with its own ladder connecting it to the next. We climbed all the way from the foundation to the top of the 50 meter tower, which got narrower and slightly more claustrophobic as we went. Once we got to the top, we opened a latch to climb into the nacelle.
3. The Nacelle
The nacelle is the hub of the wind turbine, and houses all of the turbine’s generating components. In order to get through this part and reach the top of the turbine, we had to twist sideways and lift ourselves onto the generator. When standing inside the nacelle, on top of the generator, we could see the gearbox and brake assembly below our feet. The nacelle opens up sideways to expose the generator for maintenance.
4. The Rotor
When standing on top of the nacelle, we looked back and saw the three massive rotor blades behind us. The rotor is the part of the turbine that wind rushes through and turns the turbine to engage the generator. We were amazed by the span of the rotor blades that shot up into the sky above us.
Climbing inside the wind turbine and seeing how it was made gave us a new perspective and appreciation of renewable energy. The machines are so powerful, and they only use what nature gives us. It contextualized how important renewable energy is, and how much of an impact it can have to ensure a cleaner future.
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