Which Way the Wind Blows

Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.
Image via Wikipedia

There may be a place for wind-generated power in our limping, too-late transition from coal to perhaps something else. But I don’t see it coming in the form of the massive bladed towers (it CAN be done but it should NOT be done, engineers) and it most certainly does not belong on Appalachian forest ridges. Why?

Serving Suggestion for Today: Read all of Chris Bolgiano’s letter to President Obama. You’ll enjoy her pleasant irony and sarcasm and puns even as you’ll learn from her heavily fact based opinion. Many of you (if you’re “from around here”) will agree with her 100%. Excerpt below:

Glossy ads for wind power always show turbines in open fields, never in forests. That’s because every turbine requires up to five acres of deforestation. Hundreds of turbines are being built here, burgeoning to tens of thousands if the U.S. Department of Energy indiscriminately pursues its “20% Wind Energy By 2030″ program. Do the math, and factor in the forest fragmentation that multiplies the loss of habitat, and the super-wide new roads that destroy the last remote, wild ridges.

Still want wind in your electrical future? I do. But let’s do better than the Giant Ridgetop Bird Killers. Revisit Humdinger’s Windbelt. You read about this here a couple of years ago. The technology continues to improve and is easily scalable. Why must we always pursue the Bigger Hammer approach? Because those technologies that do the best job of distributing Max Bucks get the nod.

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Bigger Hammer Wind Jammer

There’s got to be a better way to generate wind energy than erecting these behemoth towers that lift the massive blades up above ground turbulence.

Here’s a sequence of shots in the assembly and employment of the GTK1100 crane erecting a 2KW wind assembly on very level ground.

image from Vertikal.net
image from Vertikal.net

Just getting the pieces of the crane to the site takes 4 or 5 massive heavy-haul trailers, and then the components of the windmill would be brought in–over the same new roads cut through the forest of some place like, say, Belcher Mountain near us.

And I’m trying to image what would be involved in clearing and leveling and compacting a staging area for the base of the crane to sit perfectly level (on a mountain top) to lift those huge parts up 400 feet.

And while the windmill is being constructed, high-capacity power lines have be placed (above ground?) to connect this windmill farm to the grid.

All this being said, I think we have little choice (because we’ve waited far to late) but to turn to wind for the coming decades as a major producer of electrical power generation.

Thinking nuclear? Read what’s involved now in cleaning up the nuclear waste mess at Hanford.

Here’s some “wind energy advice to President Obama” from the OilDrum advocating a strong push to wind generation. It makes some good points.