The Workings of Wind Power

wind turbine with logoHow in the world do those windmills we see on the hills around the Bay Area generate and deliver electricity?

That’s a common question posed to us, so let’s take a minute to explain the inner workings of a wind turbine that’s capable of producing up to 1.8 megawatts of power when the wind is blowing. That’s enough to power 500 homes. Take a look at the graphic animation from the U.S. Department of energy that shows the different working parts. (Be sure to click through the slide show to see all of the different working parts described below.)

First of all, there are the blades. Most turbines have two or three blades that are attached to the rotor, or hub. That connects to the main shaft, which spins to power a generator. The electricity from that turbine is fed into the grid for widespread distribution.

You can see from the graphic that there are more components, especially as turbines get larger. Turbines are designed to spin facing either upwind or downwind. The one pictured in the animation is an upwind type, facing the wind with the aid of a yaw drive that keeps it headed into the wind. Downwind turbines are naturally spun by the wind to face away from the wind and do not require the yaw drive.

Most modern turbines have blades connected to a pitch system much like that of a propeller-driven airplane. The blades can be turned, or pitched, to control how much wind they utilize to spin the windmill or to minimize the impact of wind when the turbine needs to be turned off, such as when winds exceed 55 miles-per-hour. A brake may complete the stopping process.

Sometimes you’ll see some or all the turbines on a wind farm stopped even when the wind is blowing. Electric utility customers are probably getting all the power they need from other sources. Since electricity is an on-demand source of energy, there is no place for the wind power to go. In the future when power storage battery technology has advanced to the point where saving excess energy is feasible, we may see this change.

How do you get a dog to save the day from a power outage?

Our video on helium balloon safety featuring “Power Pup” is getting rave reviews. Other utilities have screened the work since it first appeared on Vimeo.

The artistic piece is 1:27 long (that’s 87 seconds) and was shot with a home video camera. Encouragement for this level of production value was the Academy Award winner “Searching for Sugar Man” which was partially shot on an iPhone using a $1.99 vintage film app.  

The stars and crew:

Power Pup is played by Lilly, a veteran of over 100 short videos. Lilly prepared for her role with Trainer/Director Mike Martinez, who engineered a dynamic jump as well as the classic stare down sequence.

Toddler, played by the cute South Bay native Mayson, is appearing in his first online role and 91st short video piece. Like all the talent, he donated his time for the public service video.

Mom, played by JoAnn, appears in her first short film after spending years behind the camera recording momentous video behind the scenesand not-so-momentous moments in her family life. 

Michael Martinez as Trainer/Director has created an iconic educational video in this, his third work released to the public. “We didn’t exactly have a huge choice of lenses to create the suspense and non-stop action, so we just moved around with the camera.”

Joe Couto was Production Manager, screen-writer and on-set photographer for the budget balloons in power lines with logoshoot. Joe also works on the visuals associated with our customer communications outreach such as bill inserts and customer collateral.

Josephine Voong, Creative Director, and chief editor illustrated the video’s storyboard and had a hand in all creative aspects. Josephine also does much of the creative art work found in our communications materials.

power Pup with logo
All in a day’s work for Lilly