How Turbines Work
A modern wind turbine has three basic components: a rotor, a generator, and a support tower. The rotor is a system of rotating blades. The generator is a machine that converts energy to electricity. It receives kinetic energy from the blades through a shaft and gear system. The generator and other parts sit inside a housing called a nacelle. The tower, made of tubular steel, steel lattice, or concrete, supports the nacelle and the rotor.
Upwind turbines have blades that face the wind. They require a special motor and wind vane to keep the blades pointed in the right direction. Downwind turbines operate facing away from the wind and do not need a special motor. In both systems, wind blows over the blades causing them to lift and rotate. The rotating blades turn the gear shaft system, which spins the generator and converts wind energy to electricity.