We built a 1000 watt wind turbine to help charge the battery bank that powers our offgrid home. It's a permanent magnet alternator, generating 3 phase ac, rectified to dc, and fed to a charge controller. The magnets spin with the wind, the coils are fixed, so no brushes or slip rings necessary.
Update: DIY Amp Hour meter for monitoring charge!
All about homebrew wind and offgrid power systems, the complete reference