Wind power remains one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world, rivaled only by solar power. Utilizing big turbines designed for high-efficiency power conversion, wind farms convert a mild breeze into actual electrical power for your home. What are the most interesting wind energy turbines in the world?
Let's take a quick tour of some of the notable examples across the globe. We have explored current installations and turbine designs that we consider to be worthy of the title of "most interesting."
[Image Source: Pixabay]
Wild Horse Wind Farm - Kittitas County, Washington, USA
This facility comprises of 127 turbines over an area of 348Km2 (86,000 acres) of which the farm itself only occupies 0.66 km2 (165 acres). Its construction brought employment and an estimated $1M in local property taxes for the county, The design of the facility (turbine location, underground cabling, substation etc) respects the local environment and other land uses. The farm's nameplate capacity is 230 MW.
Why is this interesting? Its design was complimentary to the locality.
The London Array – UK
The array is located in the Thames Estuary and has a rated capacity of 630 MW. This is enough to power 470,000 homes in the UK. Still the largest offshore wind farm in the world, the London Array opened in 2013. Some believe the UK has more than 3.6 GW of offshore wind generation capacity. The UK is on track to reach 18GW capacity by the end of the decade.
Why is this interesting? It's the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farms – Southern California, USA
Tehachapi Pass gets consistent wind flow between the Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley. For this very reason, Tehachapi is regularly used for testing and experimentation for wind energy tech. Unsurprisingly companies have cottoned onto the economic potential of the area. Around a dozen companies have installed 5,000 wind turbines at Tehachapi to capitalize on the areas energy generation potential. The nameplate capacity of the farm is 562 MW.
Why is this interesting? Perfect location for a wind farm.
Middelgrunden Wind Turbine Cooperative – Copenhagen, Denmark
Though packing a modest 40MW capacity, Middelgrunden is cooperatively owned and as such has never taken on debt. Shareholders own 1/40,500 of the partnership, and no matter how many shares owned they get only one vote. Middelgrunden has proved that offshore farms can operate safely in busy shipping lanes and recreational areas. Apparently, this site has become a tourist attraction.
Why is this interesting? If there are tourists wanting to visit it must be interesting!
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center – Taylor, Texas, USA
Horse Hollow used to be the largest wind farm in the world, as of 2008. This wind farm was also, less flatteringly, subject to the USA's first nuisance lawsuit against a wind farm. You may not be surprised that the plaintiff's case revolved around the aesthetics of the farm. The case was later dismissed by the judge.
[Image source: Pixabay]
Why is this interesting? NIMBY's legally told the score.
Altamont Pass – Central California, USA
Altamont Pass houses one of the oldest wind farms in the US, this site has the largest concentration of turbines in the world. Less salubriously Altamont Pass has killed more birds of prey than any other wind farm in North America. This is because the site is smack bang in the middle of a major bird migratory route, with the largest population of raptors, including golden eagles in the world.
Why is this interesting? Location, location, location. Also, it conflicts preservation of nature with harvesting natural resources.
San Gorgonio Pass – Palm Springs, California, USA
San Gorgonio Pass's location, conveniently, has it's strongest winds during the summer (when electrical demands are highest for the region). This site has proven to be very reliable due to the stable wind flows from warm desert air mixing with cooler coastal air masses. Average wind speeds are between 24 and 32 km/h.
Why is this interesting? Perfect location for the application of this technology.
[Image source: Pixabay]
Gansu Wind Farm – China
Also known as the Jiuquan Wind Power Base, Gansu Wind Farm is currently under construction in the Gansu province of China. With an existing capacity of 5,000 MW, Gansu could be upscaled to 20,000 MW by 2020. Once complete, the site may well become the world's biggest collective wind farm.
Why is this interesting? Potentially, the world's biggest collective wind farm.
Jaisalmer Wind Park – India
Developed by Suzlon Energy, Jaisalmer Wind Park, is India's largest operational wind energy project. It opened in 2001 and in 2005, Jaisalmer passed the 1000 MW installed capacity. This makes it one of the largest wind farms in the world.
Why is this interesting? India is rapidly developing renewable energy technology. This site is but on, considerable step on their journey.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
The Quiet Revolution
"Real estate" is often very limited in built up urban areas and the plausibility of large-scale wind turbine deployment in cities is usually not feasible. So what's the solution? Well, one would be building-mounted wind turbines. The QR5 wind turbine was created to increase demand for wind turbines that work well in packed urban environments. It has twisted blades oriented around a vertical axis, rather than the usual horizontal design.
This turbine measures in at five meters tall and three meters in diameter. It is compact and easy to install and comprises of a single moving part. The designers say the QR5s have limited maintenance outside of annual inspections.
Why is this interesting? This may allow for mass urban deployment of wind turbines.
Windspire can be thought of as the bigger brother of QR5. Standing at 9 meters tall and 1.2 meters wide these turbines are another example of vertical axis wind turbines. The lack of massive sweeping horizontal blades also renders this technology a lot more wildlife-friendly.
Why is this interesting? For the same reason as the QR5 - just on a bigger scale.
Dragonfly Invisible Turbine
Using an unusable four blade design, Dragonfly is able to harvest energy from wind speeds as low as 6.4 kmh. Italian architect Renzo Piano designed the turbine to replicate the physics of a dragonfly. This turbine is perhaps a perfect design for urban/suburban environments.
Why is this interesting? It's actually very elegant and the potential for energy harvesting at low wind speeds is has great potential.