1981 - Volume #5, Issue #5, Page #18[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
World's First Windfarm
The Greenfield windfarm was originally equipped with 30 KW, 3-bladed downwind turbines but these are being replaced now with newer 50 KW generators (with 56 ft. diameter blades), designed and constructed by U.S. Windpower, Burlington, Mass. The windfarm provides electrical energy for the area, and also serves as a research and development site for U.S. Windpower which is now in the process of developing a similar 200 turbine, $2 million windfarm in Alameda County, Calif. Thirty of those units are expected to be operational by the end of 1981.
Herbert Weiss of U.S. Windpower says the company is committed to windfarm development in other areas as well, and sees such systems as important power sources of the future. But, when asked if future land prices might be inflated by the advent of windfarms, Weiss was cautious: "It's hard to say how windfarm development might affect land prices. It's most important to know what the wind data is for the area, and that is very site specific. Not every tall hill on every farm has enough wind to operate turbines."
Average windspeeds can be deceiving, too. For instance, the U.S. Windpower turbines installed on Crotched Mountain require 22 mph wind for top power, and maintain that same peak power even if speed increases above that level. However, when windspeed falls below 22 mph, power generation drops off quickly.
Weiss says crops can still be planted around the wind turbines or the land used for grazing, just as it is around power line poles and towers. He adds that turbine operation is not directly affected by having bare soil or different crops grown on the ground around the towers. However, taller objects ù such as trees or buildings ù will cause turbulence downwind to a distance equal to eight or ten times the height of the obstacle. But, a solid stand of trees, such as in a closely-planted orchard, would cause almost no turbulence, compared with a single row of trees of the same height, explains Weiss.
With the new 50 KWgenerators, the Greenfield windfarm should produce approximately 2500 megawatt-hours of electricity annually (A megawatt equals 1000 kilowatts.) which should replace about 5,000 barrels of oil per year now burned to generate power.
For more information on windfarm systems, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, U.S. Windpower, 160 Wheeler Road, Burlington, Mass. 01863 (ph 617 273-4502).
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