Thursday, April 14, 2011

Using the Wind to Our Advantage and Yours


It's flat as a pancake here in northwest Ohio and spring means we're going to have some windy days. A lot of windy days. Being farm country with only little dots of woods here and there, there isn't much of anything to stop it in its path, so unless you live in town, you might as well learn to live with it. A former neighbor hated it so much that he mentioned it more than once as a contributing factor for wanting to move.

Yes, it can be that windy, which is actually a good thing, in one respect, especially in spring. Our area used to be a swamp. With a lot of hard work, early settlers cleared and drained the fertile land and most farms have tile installed for ongoing help with drainage of the clay soil. With spring rains, the soil can remain wet for a long time, so strong and sustained winds help dry it out.

Those same winds have made this area a recent hotbed of wind farm installations. The construction of the towers and turbines has begun and last weekend, we drove the short distance to see the first completed one. There are several towers erected, just waiting for their turbines and many, many more in various stages of construction.

Kara, who is 5' 10" tall, is dwarfed by one of the turbines.


We'll have them on three sides of us, eventually. Some will be closer than others, but all will be visible, to some extent. Personally, I love them, for two reasons. I find them to be architecturally beautiful, especially when there are several in a group. It's kind of like plants - one is fine, three is divine. Things just look better en masse. :-)

The most important reason I love them is because of what they do. The wind is there for the taking. Why not use it to generate electric power?




14 comments:

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

That picture of Kara next to it is amazing! They don't look that big when you're driving by them.

Terra said...

You are right, the wind turbines have a certain sculptural beauty. My only concern is that migrating and night flying birds are kept safe from those blades! I hope they have figured out how to do that.

Carole Sevilla Brown said...

You're right, it makes so much sense to use the wind, and like you say you have a lot of it, so it's a totally renewable resource. There's an installation off shore from Atlantic City, NJ and I think it's quite beautiful.

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

It's definitely an interesting way to go for power! They even have some you can buy to attach to your house for power. I don't know how effective they are but it sure sounds neat!

plantpropaganda said...

I've seen huge groups of them while driving through California's central valley. They were kind of like a large scale art installation.

Samantha said...

While I worry about the economic impact on our coal state (WV), we need to move forward to cleaner energy.
Terra, that was my worry, too..I did quite a bit of reading about wind power and found some reassuring info on birds/bat impact :)

Nutty Gnome said...

I love wind turbines, I think they're beautiful!
There's quite a lot of antagonism to them being placed out in the countryside near us as it's a National Park, but I think that's people taking a very short term view of things. We have to have alternative methods of producing power for the long term.

We did a year long trial at home - we had a 50ft high anamometer tower (very thin and discreet) up the garden to measure wind speed and frequency, but it wasn't consistent enough to be worthwhile having our own turbine. The neighbours wwere happy about that, but we weren't!

Eric said...

Being a rather active member in Pheasants Forever, I attend state and national conventions almost every year. And every year, there are seminars on the effects of wind turbines on wildlife populations (Contrary to some beliefs, Pheasants Forever is concerned with all wildlife, even though the emphasis is on the Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant)

Fewer birds are killed by wind turbines each year than by flying into the windows of houses. There is one species of bat that for some reason has a higher incident of death around wind turbines - the theory is the turbulance behind the blades "looks" like a cloud of insects to the bat's sonar, and they fly into the blades.

It has also been documented that the turbines physically affect the nesting/feeding patterns of wildlife - certain birds will not nest within a given distance of the towers; but enough is known about these effects that it is taken into account when planning a wind farm.

There are currently several hundred (if not thousand) windmills within 30 miles of my house in NW Iowa, and I will agree - seeing all of those blades turning in the sky is a wonderful thing, and the fact we are getting benefit from the (never-ceasing) wind is wonderful. There have been summers that virtually every day on my 30-mile commute, I would meet at least one set of blades, or convoy of tower sections, or a couple turbines going down the road. Incredibly impressive to see rolling down the highway.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Aren't these amazing things?

ConnieB said...

I so wish I could afford to put one in!! I totally agree it's there and it's free for the taking.

Garden Lily said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one to see the beauty of fields of wind turbines. Are they pretty silent, too?

Layanee said...

I find them artistically and practically beautiful as well. Wish I had one in my backyard today. It is quite windy out there but then we had a half inch of rain last night. Wind seems to follow the rain in March and April, doesn't it?

Eric said...

Garden Lily - From a distance, yes, they're completely silent. If you're right below it, you can hear the blades as they cut the air a bit, and a faint whine from the turbines, but it's not a noise you wouldn't be able to tune out relatively quickly.

Eric said...

Garden Lily - Yes, from a distance they are completely silent. If you're directly underneath them, you can hear a bit of the blades cutting the air, and if you listen really closely you can hear the turbine running, but it's not a sound you wouldn't be able to tune out fairly quickly.

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