Wind-The good, Bad, Beauty and Ugly
¬†With everything comes something good and bad, take the good with the bad, you can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need or so it seems when we look at the debates around wind turbines.
By the way the windmill is normally a water pump and a wind turbine is an electrical generator.Just something I picked up at a class lately and looked up online using Wikipedia.
With all the discussions, especially on Maui and in Hawaii, Wind is considered an important Resource and with our normal Trade Winds, this is rightly so.
It does bring to mind many questions that can be viewed as either good and bad. It's usually or own choice of perception. You can always find people for or against anything.
The fact is that as with many projects, good planning works best when done first.
There are a number of questions raised around Wind Turbines, especially in more urban settings. They generally center around the effects they have visually as well as the Fluctuations to the Electrical Grid of such a variable and sometimes non-existent Power Source.
The ability to use a Wind Turbine is dependent on the Wind Strength and how much of it is there is. The Local City, County and State Regulations pertaining to the construction and siting of them.
The height requirements are an important factor and in many places such as on Maui, the height can be a hinderance. Good Wind and Reliable Wind is generally found higher than most people would like to see the tower.
The Local Electrical Utility and Public Utility Commission that sets their laws play a big part of whether it is Financially Feasable to invest the Time, Energy and Money into building one.This is provided you can get past all the codes.
Running your own Home, Farm or Business is one thing, but feeding it back into a grid to be used reliably by the masses requires the proper interfacing and possibly being subject to not providing injecting Power at times or as it is called curtailing" your output to the grid.
Obviously there are many factors and quite a bit of information is written and available today to discuss and encourage the use of Wind Turbines as a Natural source of Electricity.The object of this article is written more around the awareness aspects than the advocation any side.
I personally believe it will take a number of different solutions to provide a Sustainable Power Source and one that can wean us from our years of dependency on oil and other toxic sources of power.
Let us all face that almost anything we do or build will create some waste, toxic components, and require Power, but it is up to us all, to find the best solutions available now and in the future to creating the best sources of Power with the least harmful effects on this planet and it's inhabitants.
Just as a note, some of the pros and cons of Wind Turbines could take up half the internet and may already, I have a few points listed that are obvious to most and few that some may have never considered.
I try to explain some of the less obvious to the best of my ability and again encourage people to research the topic that interests them them most. I've included some links to sites that might also have way more information on a particular subject and encourage people to learn more about them.
It will not only affect the way we think and react to Wind Turbines as a source of power. This is something that everyone should know something about. Yes, granted most people may not live in an area that would make having a Wind Turbine possible, but knowing enough to help our country and the world as a whole to create laws and systems tht would allow for the reasonable use of the resources available, such as Wind Turbines, can help to create laws and make decisions that will benefit the generations to come.
While not without it's limits, the need will continue on for quite some time.
Stimulate the economy (again there is plenty of debate on this)
Provide for power using land and sea areas that may not have another use at the moment or near future.
Light Flicker- If you live within the distance of a Wind Turbine that can disturb your light. Normally light during daylight hours, but Strong lighting with a Wind Turbine between you and the light source could cause Flicker
Electrical Flicker-While most Power is operated on 60 Cycles Per Second or 50 Cycles Per Second. The Wind Turbine's spinning can cause a fluctuation of Frequencies (Cycles Per Seconds) that rides on the main power and can affect the Main Power by riding on the normal Cycles Per Second that is used. It is generally in a higher frequency range than the main power and can cause a Flicker that can sometimes be observed by the human eye in lighting or by electrical devices.
Most Electricians and their Intruments look primarily at the base Cycles Per Second and it may take someone more familiar and with these higher Frequencies and a different range of Instruments to detect whether Electrical Flicker exists or not.
Many Wind Turbines convert their power to a DC or Direct Current output and Flicker is not always a problem.
Often with Vertical Wind Turbines as the blade passes the tower it experiences a disturbance in the Wind flow that can change the speed of the blade. Since wind is a very dynamic source, Wind Turbines require a number of systems to constantly adjust the Angle and Position of not only the Blades, but the whole direction that the Wind Turbine is facing. So there are many ways that Electrical flicker can be introduced.
Storage of excess Power, due to more wind energy and therefore more Power than is needed at the time, Requires a way to store this power for use at a later time and to help smooth out the usage of the power. Presently that functon is being undertaken with Batteries and Capactors.
While the Technology does exist, the Cost, Maintainance, Physical Size and Life of the device have to be considered. At this time it is considered a big drawback.
There is also the question of the Toxic materials used and what to do with them at the end of thier life cycles. Fortunately there are some exciting developments, but like many products they all have their good and bad points. recently I have re and research that could lead to some answers on these questions.
Lately I had been reading about companies that use Pulse Technology, not a new development, but just possibley a way to greatly extend the use of our existing Lead Acid (Car Battery) type Batteries.
The problem of Visibility is one that is in the eye of the beholder. Personally while I would rather not see anything but nature itself in my view plane, over-head wiring, Wind Turbines and many of the parts that comprise a Electrical System can be far more attractive when compared to the mountains ripped apart for coal, their filthy clogged streams flowing down into rivers and towns and the factories that belch oil or carbon.The unseen toxins that can be a part of nuclear and even natural gas generation can be an unseen and yet deadly source in the over all scheme of Electrical Generation.
So living within the site of 20, 30 or even 60 windmills spread across our mountains on the small island of Maui in Hawaii may not be a big thrill, but it sure can beat the hazy smog effect of burning any other fuel.
Of course, living on Volcanic Islands with one very active Volcano called Kilauea on the Island of Hawaii,that can spread gases throughout the State under the right wind conditions or what we call VOG can very often resemble some of the worst SMOG seen in other parts of the world and have just as many health effects to the people living here.
But hey, that's the price of living in paradise and you can't control Mother Nature.
(1) "A wind turbine is a rotating machine which converts the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used directly by machinery, such as a pump or grinding stones, the machine is usually called a windmill. If the mechanical energy is then converted to electricity, the machine is called a wind generator, wind power unit (WPU), or wind energy converter (WEC)." For more on this source see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_turbine.
Some video Links for these that like to see Wind turbines in Action. (Should have some selected video or links soon.)