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Wind turbines convert wind energy to electrical energy for distribution. Conventional horizontal axis turbines can be divided into three components:
• The rotor, which is approximately 20% of the wind turbine cost, includes the blades for converting wind energy to low speed rotational energy.
• The generator, which is approximately 34% of the wind turbine cost, includes the electrical generator, the control electronics, and most likely a gear box(e.g. planetary gear box), adjustable-speed drive or continuously variable transmission component for converting the low-speed incoming rotation to high-speed rotation suitable for generating electricity.
• The surrounding structure, which is approximately 15% of the wind turbine cost, includes the tower and rotor yaw mechanism.
A 1.5 (MW) wind turbine of a type frequently seen in the United States has a tower 80 meters (260 ft) high. The rotor assembly (blades and hub) weighs 22,000 kilograms (48,000 lb). The nacelle, which contains the generator, weighs 52,000 kilograms (115,000 lb). The concrete base for the tower is constructed using 26,000 kilograms (58,000 lb) reinforcing steel and contains 190 cubic meters (250 cu yd) of concrete. The base is 15 meters (50 ft) in diameter and 2.4 meters (8 ft) thick near the center.