“Catching the Wind” by Reece Gates
Little Wind, Monster Energy!
I have always been fascinated with energy, particularly renewable energy and how energy never dies but just converts to another form and Wind Energy is exactly that happening before our eyes. However, I kind of specialize in researching Crude Oil. The reason is that crude oil is quite an amazing substance in itself and the entire world is “jonesing” for oil. Currently, all countries are mobilizing to make sure they can continue to get their oil fix like crack heads, and the citizens of all of these countries are like crack babies; we were born addicted to crude oil.
Crude oil, when taken out of the ground is a thick gooey substance that’s simply long chains of useless hydrocarbon atoms, but when you heat them up something amazing happens- they turn straight into useful everyday products. For instance, at one temperature you get detergents to wash clothes, heat it to other temperatures and you get gasoline, diesel, engine oil, and kerosene. When you pump crude oil out of the ground there is a gooey residue that builds up on the shaft of the oil pump. A lot of the workers that maintain the pumps noticed that this stuff soothed cuts on their hands so a young entrepreneur came and scraped all of this goop off the shafts and put them in bottles and sold them on the streets as Vaseline. Also, after heating crude oil there are residues that are used for asphalt, tar, waxes, plastics, fertilizer, pesticides and many raw materials to make other products. Crude oil is a very versatile product and is taken for granted on multiple levels. There are 42 gallons of crude oil in every barrel, after it has been refined you get about 19 gallons of gasoline.
So enough about crude oil, I am here to talk about Wind Turbines today. There are Wind Turbines on steroids made by Clipper. The one in the picture above stands about 200 feet high, each blade can hold the wing of a 747 and the diameter of the whole fan takes up half a football field when laid flat, and this is the small one. Their flagship model has blades that are the full length of an entire football field. That’s one blade; can you imagine seeing something this size on a pole with 3 blades all the length of a football field? These bigger models are offshore wind turbines; they are designed to be located on deserted islands in the middle of the ocean. Each one can power about 3500 houses for 1 year. Just very small amounts of wind create an incredible amount of energy.
One of the things I have been looking into is how easy or hard it will be to set these up in the United States, at least the smaller more economical 1.5 kilowatt models like the one above, the larger models are 7.5 kilowatt turbines. After a little research I found a lot of interesting information about what it takes to set up a wind turbine of this size. I believe these will be the models used by the government to help wean us off our oil habits.
I was kind of under the impression that you can just find an empty space, go on the internet and check the average wind speed of your longitude and latitude and then let her rip, but quite the contrary. I have a list of a few interesting facts that must be taken into consideration before you can install one of these wind harvesters:
1. First thing you have to do as a developer is determine how much wind passes over your site, to do this they set up a wind measuring device and they measure daily average wind speeds for a minimum of 1 year. In addition, the recorded data would then need to be correlated to wind data from a local airport or other monitoring station that has collected wind data in the area for 10-20 years. Why so long? Since the project will last for over 20 years, they want to be sure that they don’t install wind turbines on a site that may have had just a few windy years.
2. So how much wind is enough? It depends on project costs and economic conditions of the area, but typically, a viable wind project will have a minimum average annual wind speed around 15-18 miles per hour.
3. Wind energy projects require large amounts of land. Typically, there are numerous landowners involved in a proposed wind project site. In most cases, a developer will not purchase the land outright from the landowners since the majority of land can continue to be used for other purposes. Instead, developers will work closely with all of the landowners to negotiate individual land lease agreements, typically for 30-40 year terms. The amount of money paid to landowners each year is typically dependent upon the number and size of the installed turbines and the amount of electricity those turbines produces each year.
4. The time and effort certainly is not cheap, Depending on the strength of the wind at the site along with market conditions, an average wind energy project takes approximately $1.2 to $1.5 million per megawatt (MW) of capacity to install. That would mean that a 10 MW wind energy facility would cost approximately $12 – $15 million to fully install.
5. Once the project location has been determined, getting the needed environmental and site permits in place can be challenging. Unfortunately, not all windy sites are suitable for wind project development. Aesthetics, bird migration, height restrictions, sound, and endangered species are some of the many areas that need to be carefully researched and addressed by the developers. Every site has its own zoning regulations, local ordinances, and permitting requirements, so developers will often use local professionals in the project area to guide them through the process. Due to the fact that the permitting steps involves federal, state, and local governments and can often take longer than any other step in the process, ensuring a strong understanding of the local laws and a solid process timeline is essential to a developer’s success.
Thanks For reading.