Windmills

Ever wonder what it’s like inside a windmill (also called a turbine)? My daughter’s boyfriend is a windmill technician — at the moment, he is on a crew building new wind turbines. You’ve probably passed a wind farm and never realized how big those suckers are. I was shocked when I realized. Maybe the phrase “300 feet high” doesn’t mean much to you — doesn’t to me. I have no sense of height. But when you get close to one, you get it.

It’s amazing how many turbines you’ll see in a windfarm. Just count the vertical lines in the pic below (not all of the bases have blades on them yet — these were still being built).

For perspective, see those two little black squares at the very base of the windmill to the left? That’s a full-sized door, and it’s up a flight of stairs.

  

Yeah, that’s a 300-foot ladder you have to climb to get to the top. I don’t know about you, but I wimp out climbing an eight-foot ladder. Can you imagine the arm strength you’d need, especially with a backpack full of tools and equipment?

When you get to the top of the ladder, you’re in a little house at the top called a nacelle. Open a trap door on the roof, and you’re three hundred feet in the open air. The white thing in the right half of the picture is one of the three blades.

We passed a train carrying wind turbine blades to the wind farm. They had lashed the blades to flat-bed rail cars. It took two cars to carry each blade. (Sorry, the blade is about the same color as the sky.) You can see the two rail cars in the bottom of the picture.

The blades are 120 feet long and spin between 120 and 180 miles per hour.

The Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm has just five turbines, and they say each turbine can produce 1.5 megawatts of energy. So each turbine can power approximately 500 homes. Guys, look how many turbines are in that picture above. Of course, that’s assuming the wind is blowing, which is why they put windfarms out in the middle of crazy-flat places like Kansas and Oklahoma. But the wind only has to blow at 12 mph to produce that much energy. That’s pretty easy out on the prairie.

The NACO website says the energy produced by their five-turbine wind farm will save the energy equivalent of 23,613 barrels of crude oil per year, or 4,722 barrels per turbine.

Multiply that by the number of wind turbines being built, add in coal and nuclear and natural gas, and that’s a whole lot of energy independence. I know it’s not the answer to all of our problems, but every little bit helps when you add it all together.

http://www.naco.org/programs/csd/Green%20Government%20Database/Atlantic%20County%20NJ%20Wind%20Farm%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

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About alisaacarter

I am a writer of young adult novels, wife, mom of three, lover of animals, former magazine editor, reader of anything paranormal, and coffee fanatic.
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