RENEWABLE ENERGY: What does it look like inside and on top of a massive, modern wind turbine?

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(Edited)

Hello everybody on HIVE! My name is Jasper and usually I write to you from Cape Town, South Africa... but not today!

I work for a South African division of a German renewable energy company. This week, everybody in the Cape Town office has come to Germany to meet some of our main colleagues here. Other divisions from other markets (Spain, Panama, Canada, Sweden, Turkey) are all coming together to have a company party near the end of the week as well - the first since Covid-19 started, so a happy time for us all to finally meet one another.

On Monday we got to see the inside of a large modern turbine. It’s hard to believe that there are already models coming out that are even larger than this, and tough to predict how much bigger they can possibly get!

Come on the trip up into the sky with me!


It's quite difficult to fit something so big into the photo! The hub and nacelle are 125m above the ground at the top of the tower, and those blades are 75m long!


So here are some of its neighbors from a little bit further away! That powerline would look massive if it weren't for the turbines in comparison.


Perhaps some cars at the base of the turbine we're visiting will help with understanding the size? Actually the cars are on our side of the turbine and would look smaller if they were right next to it... haha!


Now we are inside, at the bottom, and looking up - the cables are for a tiny elevator that can fit two people. If that elevator were to break down, well there's (gulp) the 125m ladder with a safety cable to escape back down to the ground!


The elevator is quite slow and takes several minutes to get to the top


Now we are at the top inside the nacelle - through the wall is the rotor hub where the 3 blades connect. A type of shaft that spins (because of the wind blowing the blades around) is coming through the wall underneath the steel platform


This shaft goes into a gear-box (blue), where a massive gear cog turns medium, and then small, gear cogs to significantly increase the speed of the final spinning shaft, which is then fed into the electricity generator (black). The electricity is then put into a transformer to step up the voltage all the way to 24kV. The electricity is then fed into a very thick bunch of cables that is sent down the middle to the bottom of the tower. From there, the powerline will be sent underground until it reaches the site substation where another transformer will step up the voltage to match the large powerline in the area (where the electricity, from all of the turbines in the wind farm, connects to the grid)


Let's poke my head out to see the view - notice I'm wearing a harness and I'm clipped to an anchor for safety


The blade looks strangely disproportionate from this angle as it goes from quite close to 75m away. If you look closely you will see many more turbines in the distance beyond the two you can see easily. This part of Northern Germany has many, many windfarms and, along with Denmark just to the North, was basically where wind energy was pioneered in the first place!

I hope you enjoyed my photos, and that my explanation was easy to understand? Shout if you have any questions and let's see if I know how to answer them!

THE END



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17 comments
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Wait…so you’re telling me all this while turbines were this big? Enough for cars to look small right next to them and for people to walk into them on stairs and use elevators inside them and all? I thought they were just tiny polls or something. Maybe that’s been because of I’ve never seen up close pictures like the one you took.

If I didn’t see the rest of the post and the other pictures, I could swear that last picture was shot on top of some plain or something.

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Yes they've always been big, but they just keep getting bigger! This turbine was about 1.5 years old and already the same company that made it has even bigger options that they are trying to sell.

The good thing is the higher you go the windier it gets! That, along with bigger blades and technology improvement means that the amount of electricity each turbine can make is significantly increasing, so that you don't need as many of them to provide the amount of power the nearby grid line can hold.

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Mmm interesting. I hope to tour inside one sometime. Looks like a cool thing to do. Although my acrophobia might disagree haha.

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It's not an easy opportunity to get! They had to switch off the turbine for us which meant forgoing the electricity that it would have made during that time - a lot of money! I will try and find out what is available for normal people to do here in South Africa - I think some wind farms do occasionally have programs where people can visit and learn.

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Man you guys literally experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity. I doubt I’ll ever get something like this, but as long as I’m kicking I’m going to be hopeful.

Unfortunately I’m not in South Africa, but Ghana. And as far as I know, we don’t have any turbines here.

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Yes I know, but I'm hoping what can be done for ordinary people in South Africa will be made available in Ghana if wind farms are built there. Now I'm interested in finding out what would work better in your country between wind energy and solar energy!

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that is very interesting it looks very different from what i imagined. thank for the intel👍

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It's a pleasure! And I'm glad to see you're starting to post more as well!

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yip the reason is I have a lot to post but it's all mostly diy projects and @zakludick told/taught me once u post in a community u need to post in a few others before going back to that one ( diy/food/image/gems/diy) something like that. so finding posts for the other is hard for me.

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Ah yes, I'm lucky in that there are two large music communities and a good ones for sports (that seems to enjoy the odd post about a niche sport like surfing rather than the same old soccer stuff over and over)... but it's good to spread out as the same curator can't keep pushing you so you hope to find other ones too!

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Wow, this is pretty awesome. I have kinda always wondered what the inside of one looked like. And it's good to know there is an elevator, cause climbing a ladder that high, eep. Still, the elevator is kinda small and claustrophobic looking. And then there is the view from outside. Yeah, no. I'll experience it through you.

Very interesting though, and thank you so much for sharing. Your explanations are easy to understand. And your photos are really good.

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My sister in law is terrified of elevators - this would be her nightmare! The elevator is a squeeze for two people, very slow and quite wobbly... you can see the cables and occasionally hear them twang! Hahaha!

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Wow. Talk about crazy optical illusions. I had no idea there was so much going on inside. They look super skinny, like lamp posts from most images I've seen. Incredible!

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These are massive, but the winners in size are the ones they make for offshore (out at sea). Because the foundations for those are so incredibly expensive, it makes sense to spend the money on absolutely enormous turbines so that you can have far less of them. Some of the biggest make over three times the electricity as the onshore one I'm visiting here, which is already very large and modern for an onshore turbine.

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I take it you are there to learn so these can be placed in the Cape somewhere or around the country. Interesting to see the insides and wondered why no one has been placing these around as they are a good money earner vs the investment.

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