Windmill Musings

Just got back from a family motorcycle trip. I may post more on it later if I get motivated. I’ve got lots of pictures, but I’m not sure I even have any readers left considering how little I post any more.

At any rate, as I was riding my motorcycle across the country, two observations struck me:

1. There are windmills everywhere. In every state, I saw them stretching across the land, sometimes in both directions as far as the eye could see. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, only about 4% of our power comes from wind energy. How many conventional or Nuclear power plants do you see when traveling across the country? I can recall seeing three Nuclear plants, one coal plant and two what I believe were gas fired plants, all of which took up very little landscape relatively speaking.

But I saw at least 10 wind farms and each of them covered vast areas. All for 4% of our power. I’m wondering: how much of our landscape is going to have to be covered with windmills before an appreciable amount of our energy comes from that source? All of it? I, for one, am not happy about it.

2. On my way back toward home, I was on my way through Iowa and Illinois. I passed two huge wind farms in Iowa and two in Illinois. The interesting thing is that it was dead calm that day and three of the four farms had their blades feathered and locked down except for a couple of turbines, which were turning very slowly, definitely not at their rated speeds.

I tried to take video of them, but the resolution was so crappy on my little digital camera that I use from the bike that you couldn’t really see whether the blades were turning or not.

This illustrated exactly why relying on wind for our energy needs is not a good idea. I’m sure that no wind in that area of the country is an uncommon thing, but even if uncommon, who, specifically, gets to play Soup Nazi on the rare days that the turbines aren’t providing any electricity? “No Power for You!!! Come back tomorrow!”

And calm winds aren’t the only thing that can shut them down, to much wind also can result in the turbines being shut down. Between the two, I’d guess that a not insignificant number of days are not suitable for the production of wind power. Then what? Declare a power holiday?

For those people living in areas that are becoming increasingly dependent on wind power, I’d highly recommend having a backup power generating system installed on your house or place of business.

Humanity is going insane.

Maybe more on the trip later.


4 thoughts on “Windmill Musings

  1. Yeah, I hear you.

    I took a trip up Interstate 84 … along the Columbia River Valley (which separates the states of Oregon and Washington) last year. In the Hood River / The Dalles area I was bored and started counting windmills. I go to 484 windmills which I could see from the freeway, and decided that was an appropriate number for my idle purposes, but there were a LOT more in sight and probably more that I couldn’t see or count.

    At the time I wondered how much each one would cost to construct, and how much ‘power’ each would generate. How long would it take for them to be cost-effective?

    Remember, this is along the Columbia River, which has several hydro-electric power dams at The Dalles, etc. The Grande Coulee Dam (look it up) flooded traditional Indian fishing grounds, where I recall decades ago seeing indians net-fishing for Salmon.

    I understand that Oregon & Washington are selling electric power to California. I wonder how much of the wind-power and hydro-electric power contributes to the economy of those two states, and I wonder if it was worth the loss of the scenic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge …. such as it is.

  2. Well, at least there are three of us.

    I’m now in western PA, close to the Ohio border since I got sequestered a year ago. Windmills are fairly common here, but they are mostly small ones used to pump water for livestock, etc. There are still a few, no longer used, that are left over from the pre rural electrification program. IIRC, most of them are 24VDC, or similar. I only know of one windmill farm, and that is along the PA turnpike.


  3. Vanilla is still with you. Looking forward to pix. I believe there is a view of a windfarm from the yard in which you played as a boy. Don’t even get me started.

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