Harnessing the Wind
Wind turbines are massive. Seemingly quaint from afar, these massive structures are a staple of the renewable energy sector, and constructing one requires a multitude of interesting considerations.
Where to place a wind turbine
A big part of working with wind, as well as the turbines that harness it as an energy source, is location. Assessing where a wind turbine can safely be installed and operate efficiently comes down to a lot more than finding an open stretch of land with a healthy supply of wind circulation. In reality, this process usually sees us crossing off multiple unsuitable locations for a turbine before we establish a suitable one. Factors we need to consider are wind, noise, and electricity, among others.
OK, so we mentioned that turbine construction comes down to more than a healthy supply of wind. Nonetheless, it’s a suitable place to start. It goes without saying that having the turbine(s) located in a windy location is a must, but few know that a turbine’s rotor can’t extract energy from just any type of wind; it requires uniform wind!
Uniform wind blows in one direction and is free of turbulence. This disruptive force is created when wind passes over structures such as trees, mountains, buildings, and just about every vertically obtrusive obstacle you can think of. It’s for this reason that turbines are built to be incredibly high, avoiding eddies and swirls created by those structures.
Of course, one must always consider that the higher the turbine’s tower, the higher the cost of the build. Part of our role means finding the balance – determining the optimal height a turbine might require to achieve maximum efficiency at the minimum cost. When we create formidable energy sources without breaking the bank, we consider it a win!
Here’s the tricky part. You’ve established a suitable location for a turbine, free from turbulence, in the crosshairs of uniform wind sources, and a healthy distance from any communities either human or animal. Now the turbine’s energy has to go somewhere, and connecting this new energy source to a distribution grid can imply scores of costly cabling and other expenses. If your newly discovered, ideal turbine geography is too far from a power grid, the upfront cost of connecting the two can all but eliminate the value proposition.
Putting it all together
As you can see, every piece of this wind turbine puzzle must come together perfectly. It takes a keen eye and a strong understanding of these requirements to establish and capitalize on the right geography for these incredible structures. Items like historic properties, parks, aviation guidelines, and electromagnetic interference must all factor into an incredibly complex equation, but the sum of those efforts is a truly magnificent renewable energy source.
Building something healthy and meaningful is always a challenge. It’s these challenges that we’ve made a name for ourselves taking on. For more information on our current and ongoing projects involving wind as a resource, head over to our series on elemental assets.