06 August 2012

Windy City

There is a new windmill emerging on the horizon.  It's not the run of the mill variety I'm used to seeing in the hills of Nebraska, but rather a money making variety that is convincing farmers and ranchers to turn over acres and acres of land for the production of electricity.  

I've heard about these monstrosities.  I see the turbines flying down the interstate on semi trucks one by one.  I hear the woes of those in west Texas alone that can't stand the sight of them looming in the distance.  Visual pollution.  So are they really giving us more energy efficiency and if so, at what price?  

This post is not going to answer those questions.  I know that's what you were expecting, but it's one of those mysteries that I haven't quite figured out yet.  Wind farms are a new phenom to me.  Until I figure it out, I'm going to marvel at their size.  From a distance their size is relative to the landscape. Up close, however their presence overwhelms you.   

To give you an idea, I happened to spot this windmill, the water pump windmill, next to a wind turbine. We pulled off the road to take a closer look.  I was stunned.  It completely dwarfs the small windmill.

Just to prove the small windmill is there I took a closer shot.  ONE of the turbines fits on a semi trailer, barely, but close enough.  So image three semi trucks flapping in the wind.  Now multiple that by 50 or 100.  The wind farms we spotted from the road had this many or more.  That is a lot of power.  

While we're on the subject of wind, I will share with you a tidbit I learned about them, and might explain their size a little better.  A water pump windmill actually needs the wind in order to operate. Windmills were invented to pump water from wells in the ground when there wasn't electricity available.  The drawback being, if there was no wind, there was no water.  

On the other hand, the wind turbines, in a simple explanation, create wind in order to move the molecules in the air fast enough to create energy that is then captured and converted to electricity.  They don't rely on wind to work, they create it, which is a common misconception (even on my part).  In a sense it's like hydroelectric power and the wind is like the water.  It gets pushed around enough to create energy. Thus the reason the turbines need a wide, open space to make this work, and why we saw so many of them covering the plains.   

Do you think their size is amazing? 


  1. We have wind turbines up here in Maine, too! :) As far as I know, Maine is trying to become one of "those states" that really commits to wind energy.

    I think they're beautiful. Every time I'm near one, I'm so intimidated by its size. They're huge.

    In Mars Hill, which is about 75 miles south of me, there is a large line of windmills that, annually, can power 20,000 homes.

    We also have one protruding up in the middle of our town. :) Pretty much right next to the McDonald's. It's not always turning though, so I don't know what the owner's intended purpose is for it.

    See, Maine or Texas, there are some things we have in common. :)

    1. Jenna, interesting information. I will have to check out the website. Thanks for sharing.

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