Sunday, July 26, 2009

The power of wind

This entry is not an ode to my huband's flatulence, just to be clear on that. Those that know him realise that would be a 1000 word essay all on it's own. And thank heavens we still don't have smelly-vision. Anyway, as I was saying ....

We were driving through southern Alberta last week and with the combination of a poorly detailed map (no GPS in this car, but that is a whole other story for another day) and my inclination to knock about 20km off the route we had chosen, we ended up on some hot and dusty gravel back roads through some prairie farmland near Fort Macleod.

I was delighted to see some wind turbines, up close and personal.
This is the Macleod Flats Project.

A hotly contested topic at the best of times, and I guess I don't really know a huge amount about wind turbines apart from the usual stories that make the headlines about birds, bats and visual impact.

I like them. Aesthetically, they please me. I think there is something quite beautiful about them - something noble in conception and stunning in reality. Silent (from a distance) and powerful. I feel this is technology we should be embracing, investing in and something about which to feel proud.

But, I don't live near them.

I'm not necessarily one of those NIMBY's on this topic. If I was a farmer, and a power company wanted to pay me several thousand dollars per turbine to put them in my field, I might be very grateful for the extra income. Especially if I can still grow my product or graze my cattle around the massive posts without too much bother. But are they always conveniently sited on a farm?

Are they really noisy? Court cases disagree but local residents don't. I couldn't get underneath one to check it out.

Does the spinning shadow annoy? I figure if you live right under them, then yes, it must do.

Is the prairie landscape with the Rockies backdrop being ruined by acres of giant, white twisting sticks? Some would definitely think so. Are some areas better than others to site this technology, ie, offshore ?

Is the need to drive tons of concrete into the ground in order to support these things as ecological as we are lead to believe?

Are they really that safe, with reports of fires, falling ice and light aircraft hitting them? Construction and maintenance staff getting caught up or falling to their deaths? Birds dying and the lungs of bats exploding due to change in air pressures?

I really don't know. I think many good practices are being implemented to lessen the negative effects that wind turbines have presented in the past and there is no doubt still a long way to go.

In 30 years time will we look back and say "well, we tried", or will the satellites in the sky look down on a globe dotted with millions of little twisting sticks trying valiantly to dent the power supply required by our greedy planet?!

1 comment:

  1. I too like the turbines. With the open prairie, the big sky, the Rockies, I think aesthetically they look great and well suited to the place.

    But I do wonder similar things.

    A nephew of mine lived in Fort Macleod and Lethbridge for a few years. He loved the turbines... it was the near constant wind that irritated him!


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