Posts Tagged wind power

Flying Wind Turbines

Posted by on Friday, 3 December, 2010

Wind farms already provide power in many locations across the United States, but most of these turbines are attached to ground based structures. Stronger winds high above the earth have the potential to provide much more energy for a wind turbine to capture. The main problem is getting a wind turbine off the ground and keeping it in the air without using too much additional power.

Kites are one way to get the wind turbines up in the air. The wind turbines are only useful when the wind is blowing strongly, which means that there will also be enough wind to keep a kite aloft. According to Unity College, a wind turbine attached to a kite can operate at five times the maximum altitude of a ground based turbine, which provides twice as much power to the power plant on the ground.

Another method of getting the wind turbine in the air without using up additional power is attaching it to a blimp. The blimp is filled with helium, so it is lighter than air and does not need to have the wind blowing to stay up in the sky. Another advantage of a blimp is that it can hold a heavier turbine than a kite can.

There are several reasons why an airborne wind turbine is more effective than a ground based turbine. The wind flow on the ground is not consistent, and wind often comes in from a direction that does not allow a fixed turbine to easily capture it. According to Worchester Polytechnic Institute, at higher altitudes, the wind blows in the same direction for long periods of time, and it keeps blowing at a high speed. A mobile platform, such as a kite or a blimp, can also change its orientation in the air so that it can collect the maximum amount of wind energy. It is possible to use computer software to automatically launch or control the kite or blimp as well.

Another major advantage of an airborne turbine is its reduced cost. A ground based turbine may be several hundred feet tall. This means that the wind farm owner must build a support structure out of metal to prop up each turbine. The support structure does not produce any energy itself, but it does require a lot of energy to mine the metal and build the structure. A blimp or a kite is made out of thin cloth, so the main cost of the project is the turbine itself. Airborne turbines can produce much more power than ground based turbines with the same amount of cash investment.

The Wind Farms of Oregon

Posted by on Friday, 30 April, 2010

A large field of wind turbines at Shepherds Flat is under construction in Oregon. The project is nearing completion, and was blocked by the federal government. The claim was that it might interfere with an Oregon radar installation. Now the federal government has withdrawn its opposition and decided to spend additional money upgrading the radar system so that it will function with the wind turbines operating nearby. The wind farm project is now under way once more.

Continuation of the wind farm is a Bipartisan Project. Both of Oregon’s Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, supported this project, along with Republican Congressman Greg Walden. This farm will definitely help Oregon, which is suffering one of the highest rates of unemployment during the financial crisis.

The Shepherds Flat project is one of the largest proposed wind farms in the country, providing more than eight hundred megawatts of power at peak output. Companies are considering installing several other large wind farms in the area, near Arlington, Oregon. Arlington, with about five hundred residents, is famous for its mayor who stripped down to her underwear and posed on top of a fire engine. The mayor lost her next election over that incident, but only by three votes. This is a rural county, with the Columbia River which separates Oregon and Washington on its north border, so a large wind farm with more than three hundred turbines provides a very large economic boost to the local region.

Many wind farms are located in an area called the Columbia Plateau. This area is exposed to strong wind and may provide enough power for several states in the west. The Oregon coast is also a great source of wind energy, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Oregon, California, Washington, and other western states have passed state laws requiring power to be supplied by renewable sources in the near future. More surveys and regulations are required for major wind farms, and the Shepherds Flat proposal is one of the largest. According to Oregon Climate Change, farms that generate less than a hundred and five megawatts may apply to the county authorities for regulatory approval, and larger projects such as the Shepherds Flat plant must get state approval from the Oregon Department of Energy.