CATS: Wind turbines – An up-close-and-personal look

Number three in the Clean Air Technologies Series.

Wind turbines in the company of elliptical cloud formation, Tehachapi Pass, Calif.

Looking like giant fans and looming larger than life, nationwide, some 36,000 of these imposing structures stand tall. That’s the equivalent of an average 720 per state. Any way you look at it, that’s a whole lot of spinning going on.

Now think for a moment if there weren’t any – turbines, that is. No turbines, then no turbine-produced electricity – it’s that simple. Interestingly, there was a time when not a single one stood, anywhere. But all that has changed.

I can’t speak for others, obviously, but to me, personally, I am not bothered by their presence in any way, shape or form. In fact, when I worked in California’s Altamont Pass region, situated between the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley in the northern half of the state, there they were, as plain as day and it was all a person could do to ignore their being there, especially when I found them to be somewhat mesmerizing due to their size, the spinning of the blades and the whirring sound they produce when moving.

This may all seem a bit odd-sounding, I know, but when all one sees is turbines by the hundreds, it’s pretty tough not to take note.

One good turn deserves another

Besides generating electricity, wind turbines are “discussion generators,” and it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand why that is. I mean, as soon as they appear on the horizon, who wouldn’t have at least something to say about them? And, I would have to imagine, they’re probably a big hit with kids.

Beyond this there are different types of supports to keep them upright.

On the operational side, wind turbines are nothing more than generators really turning mechanical into electrical energy, not unlike a person riding a bicycle hooked up to a generating system providing energy to power home appliances. The bicycle peddler (not to be confused with a bicycle salesperson in this case) can get exercise and produce electricity at the same time. As opposed to people power, in the wind turbine’s case, it’s the wind that does the work. And that’s the real beauty of this whole wind-turbine tale.

And with that, I would expect to see more and more coming online over time.

– Alan Kandel