Thursday, September 6, 2007

333.9 Texas Energy: It's Blowing in the Wind

I took these pictures of the newest wind farm in West Texas...just north of San Angelo and outside of Sterling City along Hiway 87. The turbines look closer than they really are...the first picture gives a better perspective as to how far from the double-lane, divided hiway they are.

And yes, I stopped the car to take the pictures! I was interested in taking a picture or two because I drive this road pretty regularly and NEVER saw the construction of these HUGE objects (see facts below) until July...and I was almost past them before I "saw" them. This time I was watching carefully... and when they were wrapped in a beautiful early morning ground fog like a bride in yards and yards of tulle, it took my breath away! Friends and family often wonder why I enjoy the rather lengthy drive from Houston to the area...well, wonder no more...this is just one reason! It was a beautiful late summer morning.

I saw my first wind farm years ago in Southern Cailfornia along I-10 as you cross from Arizona into Cailfornia and was pretty impressed then too. I have seen a couple of older locations in Texas, but no matter how often I see them, I am always impressed with the size of the turbines. From a recent San Angelo newspaper article:

Sterling County’s first wind farm has:
- 415-foot turbines that stand taller than the Statue of Liberty, which is 305 feet tall from the ground to the tip of the flame.
- Each generates 2.3 megawatts of electricity. A megawatt, or 1 million watts, can power 400 homes at any given moment.
- The housing for the turbine atop the pylon, called a nacelle, is the size of a school bus.
- The generating equipment inside the nacelle weighs 25 tons.
- Each blade weighs 14 tons. Its tip speed of 220 mph powers a drive shaft through the three-stage gear box that produces 18,000 revolutions per minute.

If you would like some more information about wind farms and wind power, check out this site. It includes a video clip, a powerpoint presentation, and lots of photos from another wind farm site near Abilene, Texas. Found this slide interesting!

Ironically, as I was making three return trips from the Dallas area going south on I-45 in August, coming north on the freeway were oversized trucks carrying these huge blades. I wondered at first what in the world these items could be and then the light bulb came on...blades for these turbines headed somewhere north...not sure where, since they were travelling up I-45, but anyway, figured they must have come by ship from somewhere and were off-loaded at the Houston port. According to the article, it looks like my theory was correct...and they are constructed in Denmark.

ANOTHER reason I love my various road trips that I take! I just get to see all kinds of interesting things and learn "new stuff"...did you know the Texas rest stops have wireless internet? !!!

Anyway... do you need some new books on wind power for your renewable energy collection?Wind power of the future : new ways of turning wind into energy / Tecco c2003
Wind / Naff, ed. c2007
Wind power / Petersen c2004 Children's Press
Generating wind power / Walker c2007 Crabtree
Wind power / Morris c2006 Smart Apple Media
Wind power / Sherman c2004 Capstone

Key words/Subjects: wind power, wind farms, wind power plants. Other call #s 621.31, 621.45


melscales said...

There are also a bunch of them outside of Abilene on some road I went on a little while back. You can't miss those, though. There are lots and lots of them! And it's perfect for West Texas Wind!
Thanks for sharing!

Library Girl said...

There are also tons of them to the North of I-10 near Fort Stockton on the way to CC!! We've seen them a couple of times in the past few years. I, too, am fascinated by them, and as you mentioned seeing them being transported on the highway... I now have a recollection of the same thing, although at the time, I thought they were airplane wings. It makes much more sense that they were wind turbines! Coolness!

LKP said...

Wow! What awesome pictures!!! I just love the way they look like they are almost "floating" above the ground! Thanks for sharing with all of us "East" Texas folks one of the beauties of West Texas.

random former sterling-ite said...

Nice photos. I'd have to assume they were north of SC towards Big Spring since thats where the Reed/McDonald ranches are located.
That will probably boost the local population up to, oh, 900 or so. Also interesting in the linked article that the family heirs are stockbrokers and attorneys instead of making their living with ranching.

DA (former SC resident from 60's and 70's)

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