Friday, April 13, 2007

Wind Farms

Recently I have come across wind farms in strange places. The first was while flying from Calgary to London. Clear skies over Scotland and Northern England allowed some photography from my window seat and I was busy recognizing old haunts from my Ph.D. fieldwork when I saw the strangest thing:
Offshore Wind Farm
An offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea!

Not one rotor was rotating. Not one! Which means that somewhere in the UK a steam generator (nuclear, natural gas or coal-fired) was busy making up the deficiency. The problem with this "back up" for wind energy is that you cannot simply switch on a conventional or nuclear power station when the wind drops.

The second occurrence was in a horrendous traffic jam on the A5 trunk road near Oswestry. Fortunately I was moving in the opposite direction but the tail back behind two advance warning police cars, a white van, four huge rotor blade carrying pantechnicons and a rearguard white van was about six miles long. This convoy was, presumably, heading for the Welsh Mountains where similar structures pollute the landscape and drive nearby residents crazy with their noise.

The strange thing about the convoy was that there were four blades when wind turbines normally have three. Perhaps the turbines need an extra back up?

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