Wind turbines are made of various materials depending on the turbine model. For example, the tower is typically made of steel, the nacelle is made of aluminum or steel, and the blades are mostly made of fiberglass.
This article discusses the different materials used to manufacture a wind turbine and their purpose.
A wind turbine tower must be strong and sturdy enough to support the turbine’s structure and withstand the force of the wind and blades’ vibration.
There are three common types of wind turbine towers:
1. Tubular Steel Towers
Tubular steel towers are the most common type of wind turbine towers. As their name implies, they are shaped like a cylinder or tube where the base is wider than the top.
They are often used in areas where wind speeds are high, as they can offer more support than other types of towers.
2. Lattice Towers
Lattice towers, also known as space frame towers, are made from steel beams arranged in a lattice or grid-like pattern.
Lattice towers are not very common for obvious aesthetic reasons, but it offers a wide range of advantages over tubular steel towers such as:
- Significantly lower costs
- Ease of transportation
- Ease of assembly
- Ease of maintenance
3. Concrete Towers
Concrete towers are, as their name suggests, made of concrete.
They have massive logistical advantages over both types of wind turbines, as they can be manufactured close to the wind farm site and easily transported via regular trucking.
There are only a few concrete wind turbines right now, but it’s expected that the number will grow soon.
The nacelle is the wind turbine section containing the gearbox, generator, and other electrical equipment.
It sits atop the turbine tower and must be strong enough to withstand the force of the wind.
The nacelle is usually made of aluminum, steel, or fiberglass with some reinforcements for high-stress regions, such as tie-offs on the roof.
The Main Shaft
The main shaft of a wind turbine is responsible for transferring the power from the blades to the generator.
It must be strong and reliable to handle the stress of the rotating blades.
The main shaft is typically made from steel but can also be made from aluminum or fiberglass.
Wind turbines blades must be sturdy to withstand the force of the wind yet lightweight so that they can spin even if the wind is not very strong.
This is why most blades are made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester or epoxy with Kevlar or Carbon Fiber as a reinforcement material.
Fiberglass is the primary material used for wind turbine blades because it is strong, durable, and lightweight.
However, a new carbon fiber material is 25% lighter than fiberglass, which allows for more durable and even longer blades.