Posted by: David | August 4, 2009

Windmills & Squirrel Cages

Sunday I was treated to a Jeep ride up to see the Lempster Mountain Wind Farm. A friend who lives in a town nearby had met the landowner and gotten verbal permission to check out the site. I have not been so impressed by technology of this scale since I was a NASA-enthralled kid visiting the Kennedy Space Center as a 7th or 8th grader. The scale of this wind farm is so impressive. The photos don’t really show how big these things are. The company that built them is called Iberdrola. They are based in Bilbao, Spain.

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This sign was the first one at the electric gate … which was open.

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This sign was second. It’s more politically correct. I guess.

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It really is private land. It’s a farm with cows and stuff.

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Stuff like 40-story windmills. 12 of them spread across the mountain.

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It’s hard to appreciate the scale of these machines …

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That box thingy to which the turbine blades are mounted is the size of a large bus.

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There’s the Jeep (’79 CJ7 Levi’s Edition) for some scale.

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It’s 400 feet tall.

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There are 12 of them. They produce 2 megawatts each.

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12 400 foot towers X 2 megawatts each = 24 megawatts.

Got some video and put it up on Youtube. Listen to the sound these giant blades make as they slice through the air. We were trying to figure out what the speed of the blades might be at their tips. We were thinking well over 100 mph. But we didn’t do the math all the way …

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How many bolts does it take to hold down this giant tower?

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cantueso
Blogfriend cantueso sent me this photo with Don Quixote. He tilted at windmills, right?

Cantueso’s sending of the doctored photo was a brilliant coincidence. I hope that wind farms like these prove to be a good way to generate electricity. We wondered as we drove back down the mountain if the landowner was able to score some electricity in the deal.

The final image related to this set was taken Monday evening. On the way to work my car’s blower was making an awful vibrating sound when I turned the defogger on high. It shook the whole dashboard. On the way home from work it was quite hot, and there was this smell … Long story short I squirm and sweat and try to figure out how many screws I need to remove to get the blower out from behind its mount under the glovebox. It was about a dozen, and they all went back in, with only one stripping out. And yes, there was a stupid dead mouse in there.

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No mouse was hurt in the taking of this picture. It was already dead.

By the way, this type of blower, which a friend of mine thought looked alot like a Habitrail from hell, is called a “squirrel cage”. Now that the dead mouse and stuff is gone, my blower works really well. I turned on the AC full blast. A-OK. I don’t know why this mouse decided to try to nest in my blower, but it was clearly a big mistake.  It was actually just beginning to smell, so the prompt action was a good choice. I probably killed it by running the blower on low sometime on Sunday. Sorry for the grossout. 😦

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Responses

  1. Ha! I was just thinking, “How very Don Quixote,” when I got to Cantueso’s doctored photo.

    There is at least one windmill farm in the northern part of my state for electricity generation. There is no wind to speak of where I live to power such behemoths.

    Ha! That’s so funny Allison! Cantueso is truly uncanny.

    To consider spending millions of dollars on such things, I would assume that one would study the wind run carefully for a good long time. And I think that the technology must be able to draw power from ever lighter breezes, but I don’t really know.

  2. Impressive. And that wind thing was pretty cool too. Sounds like a pretty cool trip.

    It was a perfect ending to a nice day of birthday party for 5 and 7 year old sister and brother. Their dad offered the Jeep ride. I’d been pondering these things since someone pointed them out in the distant view from the town where I work, some 50 miles north and east.

  3. I honestly didn’t realize they were that big. Wow! They want to put them off the coast of Cape Cod. There are all sorts of arguments going on about it.

    Poor mouse!!

    Yeah! They look really sci fi from a distance of a few miles. If they’re going to put them in the ocean, why not just figure out how to get the moving water to generate the power? For me, the NIMBY (not in my back yard) sentiment is reversed, I would LOVE to have one of these in my back yard!

    I felt bad for the mouse when I realized that it must have had a rather agonizing death by centrifuge. But it didn’t diminish the cursing as I struggled with removing its corpse. I was pretty sure I was going to break something in the process, but I only stripped out one plastic screw anchor. Fortunately, my Camry is very well made.

  4. I was stunned the first time I saw on TV how big these things actually are. I’m such a fan (no pun intended) of wind power, being from Oklahoma and now Colorado. Both states have huge wind farms. We have wind and sun in great abundance out here. I pay extra to get my household power from the wind farm.

    I can only hope that this technology proves itself and becomes more popular. As battery and superconductivity technologies mature, maybe windmills will scale down to systems that individual homes could use, perhaps in concert with photovoltaic. Imagine generating electric power without CO2.

  5. And could you figure out what a megawatt is? For instance how many megawatts are used in winter by a small town of 10000 people in a month.

    There is a wind farm near here. I have been told that they kill many birds because they are built in the path of the wind that is also the path of large flocks migrating.

    Yes, the Quixote. I took out the cars that were coming from the left, but I should also have cut off the blue car in the foreground, because now it looks a little dangerous for the horse and the rider and the blue car.

    That would be too much work. The implicit question is whether these kinds of machines can efficiently and economically generate significant power. I guess we’ll just have to see. The idea of electrical power from wind is attractive, but these generators are huge machines which must be manufactured in large factories and who knows how much diesel was burned in all the excavation and erection of these towers? How much electricity do we really need anyway?

    Birds die flying into my windows too.

    I like the tension of the Quixote In Traffic. 🙂

  6. Would you happen to know why these places like WordPress favour the use of pictures and photos and even videos, but cannot do sound files? Why would that be?

    I have no idea. Seems like a good question. Maybe they should. But then there are other web venues for such media.

  7. There is always something interesting to learn at your place…40 story wind mills…yowzers…that was a magnificent sight…and then, there was a dead mouse at the end. Well, you just stopped me from having a snack before dinner, so I guess that’s a good thing 😉

    Sorry about that Romi. Thanks for visiting. Your new avatar photo is very fetching! Now get back to work.

  8. From WikiAnswers: “…If 100 light bulbs each using 1,000 watts of power are turned on for 10 hours, they will use 100 x 1,000 x 10 watt hours = 1,000,000 watt hours = 1 megawatt hour…” So: I have (let’s say…) 30 bulbs, avg. wattage about 60, around my vt. house. when they are all turned on, they burn 30 X 60 watts, or 1800 watts, or 1.8 kwatts per hour. In 12 hours that would be 12 X 1.8 or around 21 kwatts per day. There are about 600 dwellings in my little town, some bigger, most smaller. If the usage all over town were like mine, my town would burn about 12.6 megawatts a day. That’s just the lightbulbs; it doesn’t count the fridge, the computer(s) or the farm equipment like the refrigerated bulk tank in the milkhouse, or the gutter cleaner in the barn. So I guess we’d need 6 of those suckers to run much of the town. I don’t know where we’d put them; they are too large.

    Yeah, and what if the wind don’t blow? What then? They really are too large, believe me. But still way cool to see. I wonder whether they’ll pan out.

  9. Somebody do my math again?

    I wish I could but I’m just too dang tired … sorry.

  10. Always a fun educational spot; I enjoy visiting here. But then… the dead mouse. yuck.

    Thanks C, and sorry about the yuck. At least I apologized in advance. 🙂

  11. iF THE WINDFARMS ARE SO GOOD WHY DID bOONE pICKENS DISCONTINUE HIS QUEST TO BUILD ANYMORE OF THEM.tHIS TECHNOLOGY IS,NT PERFECTED YET AND IS NOT A VIABLE SOURCE
    OR AN ECONOMICLY SOURCE,DO,NT KNOW WHY WE JUST JUMP INTO THESE WIND APPLICATIONS UNTIL ITS A PROVEN WAY TO CREATE
    CHEAP/AFFORDABLE ENERGY AND WHATS EVEN WORSE THE GOVT
    IS TRYING TO SHUT DOWN ALL OTHER FORMS OF PROVEN ENERGY SOURCES/COAL HYDRO GAS AND OIL LETS GET IT RIGHT BEFORE WE JUST GO GANGBUSTERS INTO THESE NEW FORMS OF ENERGY /WIND SOLAR AND SO ON. tOM haRRINGTON

    Thank you for your comment Tom. It was tempting to delete this comment, since it’s all in capital letters, which is considered to be SHOUTING in this medium. But maybe you didn’t know that, and I’m not a punctuation snob anyway. Besides, this needs a response.

    Seeing these enormous wind turbines on this windy hillside was awesome. The millions of dollars spent by some European corporation here involved some major planning, calculation, and decision making. After the awe subsided they seemed another example of overblown technology, no pun intended. I imagine that after a decade or two the weather will have its way with these giant towers and repairs will be costly. That said, I’d still take the bet that they generate a profit, or else they would not have been erected.

    I don’t agree with your idea that we’re “jumping into” sustainable energy like wind. I think we’re taking too long to develop alternative and renewable energy. Furthermore, “proven energy sources”, and I’m glad you left out nuclear, are not proven at all. Our use of these non-renewable resources is relatively recent (a couple of centuries) and not without consequences. Here is where we should immediately STOP going gangbusters as we’re fouling the atmosphere of the entire planet.


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