Monday, 16 January 2012

Getting the wind up

A perfect opportunity arose yesterday - which was a cold, still, clear-sky afternoon, with a great sunset coming on - to have a really good, close-up look at one of those dreaded wind turbines that seem to stir up so much emotion in country areas.

It was freshly contructed, and they hadn't yet erected a perimeter fence to keep away saboteurs and the curious. It was a temporary window of easy access. There were merely little notices stuck into the surrounding gravel, saying 'Keep orf!'. But so unnoticeable that I walked straight by them, and actually climbed the steps up the side to reach the inspection doorway. The friend with me, a much more law-abiding person, did not copy me at all. Fortunately, the police did not turn up with sirens and flashing lights, to accompany me to the station.

It was like a huge metal flower. The tall stem remided me of a mighty sequoia tree. It hummed from within. You imagined raw power flashing down that stem, into the ground, and then up the road to join the National Grid. And there was I just inches away from all those megavolts!

There was a notice not to touch, as if the hull might still be hot from its landing on planet Earth.

What about the noise of the rotor blades? I can tell you that, turning briskly in the breeze, they made only a gentle swishing noise. It was a soothing sound, and I can't see how anyone could object to it. I mean, nobody objects if it's open day at the local restored windmill, and they let the sails go round. Whoosh, whoosh, rumble, rumble. And this tall, graceful thing has a much more vital role. And it's so nice to look at. In fact I can hardly think of a more beautiful piece of industrial kit. It really does call to mind a giant seagull. Here are some pix. Judge for yourself:

Isn't this pleasing to the eye? Perhaps in the way that a Spitfire or a sleek, water-cleaving submarine can both be seen as machines to admire? And all this one does is produce electricity, very cleanly.

I even thought it added something to the view. I remember, when in Scotland in 2010, seeing a cluster of wind turbines on a high hill off the A96 in Aberdeenshire: what a majestic sight. I can see that a hundred of these things, massed together, might be intimidating. But surely still much more attractive than a dirty, sinister coal-fired, or nuclear, power station. And it's even better than hydro power: you don't have to flood lush valleys forever, and drown villages. Plus, of course, you can always dismantle a wind turbine if it becomes unnecessary or unwanted. You can't do that so easily with your average old-school power generation plant, or a dam.

What about one in my back yard, then? well, if it were no closer than three hundred yards away, so that you could hardly hear it, then fine.

And where was the turbine in my pictures? On the hill just above Glyndebourne, where they do the opera.


  1. Personally Lucy, I like them. There are quite a number of them along the coast northwards of Liverpool, the last one is just about approaching the Pierhead, the waterfront of Liverpool. By the way it isn't megavolts they produce but megawatts, the voltage is fairly low. Well I had to say something being as I am an electrician...LOL. When the first pylons were erected across the country there was widespread objections but now they are more or less taken for granted. They on the other hand deliver many megawatts of energy at much higher voltages ranging from 11Kv to 275Kv. They also produce strong magnetic fields which circle the conductors and can be detected at ground level. Many people claim that this affects their health if they live close by one or beneath the cable runs. A similar effect on health is claimed by those living near to microwave relay stations (probably a greater risk). These wind turbines will have no such affect on our health. I like them for their intrinsic beauty.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. What posh elegant models you get down south!

    Where we go in France they call them "plantations" but are generally of a more utilitarian design and when the wind is right we can hear them from the next valley. Each local council decides if they want them for the generous income they provide in taxes. Our village had strict rules about renovation because it was old and picturesque then they surrounded it with windmills!

  3. @Shirley Anne:
    Forgive me, please: I know there is a connection between volts and watts and amps and ohms, but I'm only a girl and I don't know much about these things, or anything at all really! But I could at least have looked up basic information on the power output of these wind turbines, in Wikipedia say, and that would have given me the correct unit! Duh. All credibility gone.

    This was surely the new 2012 model, now in the showrooms. It has the SE Lux spec, with a tear-shaped generator pod and dinky turned up tips to the rotor blades. Comes in cream, gold and green. This was the cream. I think you can save a bit of cash by having the base S spec, but you lose the colour-matched side stairs, and the posh ceramic disk brakes for the rotor.


  4. Lucy, you will get us a bad reputation not knowing about the oily bits but knowing all the style options!

  5. I am a girl too Lucy! I guess I am a rare breed though seeing as I am into electrical stuff. I do like girly things too! Honest!

    Shirley Anne xxx


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