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(Occasional) Windfarm blogging

by Jerome a Paris Fri Oct 21st, 2005 at 03:57:47 AM EST

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

I have been spending the past two days in Portugal to visit a windfarm that my bank financed. I'd like to show you what it all looks like.

All pictures were taken by me, including this one:

(warning, several hundred kb below the fold)

This is what most of the wind farms in the region (and I counted at least 100 turbines in a 30 mile area) look like:

All the wind farms are on ridges, and are thus visible from pretty far away. However, with an object like a wind farm, it is pretty much impossible to have an idea of their scale from any distance. So they are there, clearly visible to all. If you think they destroy the landscape, I suppose there is little that can be said to convince you otherwise.

This is taken from within the windfarm, i.e. on one of the access roads that are used by maintenance vehicles to get access to the turbines.

Now this gets interesting... This is taken from the very top of one of the turbines. You can get access to the nacelle of each wind turbine by climbing within the monopile. Some are equipped with small lifts: otherwise you simply need to climb us a vertical stairwell against the side of the pile. It's very secure, all movements within are done with harnesses and failsafe security systems during the climb. Up there, the nacelle (especially in the models of this manufacturer) are surprisingly large:

(there is a lot of room because this manufacturer does not use a gear box: it uses a rotor/strator technology to generate the power directly, without using a generator to convert the mechanical energy)

There's a trap and a winch to bring equipment up, and a trap to have a look from the top (that's where I took the picture above, and the one below:)

This next picture may give you an idea of the size of the blades: the diameter at the base is 2-3 yards at least, and the length is above 30 meters. It's just as big, and as precisely designed as the wing of a (big) airliner.

Back to the ground, i can confirm to you that these wind turbines are absolutely silent, even when you are standing right under them. There's barely a "whisshhh" as the blades fly across.

Now, that's all for the wind farms. For those that are suspicious of my motives, I am not trying to sell anything here on dKos, but I am happy to show you the concrete results of my work, and I thought I'd also show you a little bit more of the region where these wind farms are located, and other highly visible pieces of spectacular engineering.

The region is pretty spectacular, and is located along the Douro river. This is actually the region where most of the port is produced. It is a mix of high plateaus, narrow valleys and steep hills, with vineyards on terraces almost everywhere.

This is as seen from the top

and this from the bottom:

Now, there are a lot of spectacular bridges. That one was in the city where we stayed; the picture is taken from theexact same location as the above one, looking at the other side of the river:

The next city has some also spectacular bridges, with a twist:

As you can see, bridge technology has made many strides over the years, and is also invading the landscapes. The new freeway linking the region to Porto was build with a number of spectacular bridges and tunnels. Are they ugly? pretty? A necessary evil? An unaldulterated evil? iy seems to be discussed much less thna the impact of windfarms, in any case.

Of course, you can also find some charming old bridges (sorry for the poor quality):

So. What sacrifices our current living standards are worth?

So, how big are those babies? 1.5 MW? More?
by IdiotSavant on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 12:27:30 AM EST
30 metre blades, that must be a standard Enercon E-66 (or, if it is new, an E-70), hence 1.5 MW for older and 1.8 MW for newer units (I presume in Portugal, only the latter) (resp. for an E-70, 2.0 MW).

Jérôme, wich wind park is this?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 04:16:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On that site, there was a combination of E-66 (1.8 MW) and of the newer E-70 (2.0 MW - with the new, longer, and better designed blades). (the number after the E indicates the diameter of the blade area)

You'll understand that I don't give out any detailed specifics on the project here.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 05:16:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wonderful photos! That old bridge photographed from above is a railway bridge, aint' it?

Was there a bird study done before this park was built? At mountaintops, there might be increased danger.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 04:19:25 AM EST
Yep that old bridge was a railway bridge. The line looked to have been unused for a long time. There were tons of similar small and not so small bridges in that region which is very accidentée, as we say in French. There actually was a third metallic bridge just parallel to that stone bridge under the big new highway bridge but my pictures of it did not work out, unfortunately (taken from a bus).

Many small and big dams as well.

As to the birds, there was an environmental impact study done before the project could get its licenses.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 05:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

If you think modern wind farms destroy the landscape, I challenge you to explain why these wind farms (in Campo de Criptana, Spain) don't.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 05:33:21 AM EST
i think they look great!

simple, clean, uncluttered, they look like apple designed them.


i love that this technology is so 'vintage', just rendered much more efficient than its 1920's antecedents.

no scary terrorist factor at all...

these are functional, smooth and elegant. a bit christo in their sweep.

you must be proud to be a part of this jerome, i am certainly proud for you and all who are doing something tangible to lighten the load on our 'fortunate planet'.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 07:07:17 AM EST
I will be working for the company who built this windfarm this summer.
Jerome, will you still be working with them in the near future?

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine
by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 07:57:17 AM EST
Beautiful pictures. I like windmills, to me watching them they have an almost hypnotising effect.

About 7 years back I saw the first windfarm in Tariffa in Spain. It was very fascinating.

by Fran on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 02:58:50 PM EST
To me, it started in 1988, during a visit to Cuxhafen/North Germany. There was a test facility with a dozen rotors, and some futurist exhibition about what wind power could eventually achieve... stuff long passed since, I believe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 03:36:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The topic is very interesting.  I have a lot of (dumb) questions.  For example, what happens if something like a hurricane comes along?   Presumably the design is such that the rotors are built to withstand more than "ordinary high velocity" winds, but have "farms" these gadgets ever been subjected to gale force winds for extended periods?   I realize it's a bit like asking a nuclear plant to withstand a Richter 7 scale earthquake and the consequences are obviously less catastrophic even in the case of structural failure, but there are places where it's all too easy to imagine a farm of shattered rotors (for example, off Cape Cod).

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Fri Oct 21st, 2005 at 07:21:07 AM EST
The Danish experience during the winter 1999 is that while a significant part of the forest went down with the storm (40% in some areas), only a few (less than 10) of the 6,000 turbines then erected had any damage.

I don't know if that answers your question but it's a start!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 21st, 2005 at 08:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, Jerome.   It's already useful to know that there
is a "decoupling between" damage to the rotors and damage to the turbines.   Rotors cost less to replace than turbines, I suppose.

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Fri Oct 21st, 2005 at 08:33:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe it is more likely that the whole turbine topples than damage to just the rotors. When wind speed is too high, the blades are turned parallel to the wind - then, the structural stress is relatively small, while most of the wind pressure is contributed by the tower and nacelle. The images of damaged turbines I saw were such - e.g.:

(This one didn't shut down during a storm)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 21st, 2005 at 09:56:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello Jerome,

I joined European Tribune today which is a few days after seeing your similar diary on Booman Tribune.  One day after that diary, one of our public TV stations ran a program on windfarms in Europe and a factory that manufactures turbines and blades.  Amazing.  The size is too big to fathom from pictures.

Thank you for the diary.

"It does not require many words to speak the truth." ...Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

by puget4 (puget4 at yahoo dot com) on Sat Oct 22nd, 2005 at 11:10:26 PM EST

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