As we discussed in our post on local opposition to wind energy projects, the majority of people in the United States support renewable energy but do not prefer to have windmills located near them. This is demonstrated by complaints of the noise from a spinning wind turbine, the perception that windmills are ugly and obstruct otherwise natural and beautiful views, and other outrages that some might say derive from a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) attitude. A potential solution to this issue could be to install wind farms in certain locations where their sound and appearance isn’t likely to become a problem.
Wind Turbines in the Desert
The word “desert”, just as its synonymic verb counterpart, came to English through the Old French derivation of the Late Latin desertum, meaning “thing abandoned”. Since deserts house smaller populations than other geographic regions, while occupying one-fifth of the world’s land, it makes sense to install wind turbines in them. A smaller population could mean less people to complain.
Some deserts already support active wind farms. The Desert Sky Wind Farm in Texas consists of 107 wind turbines that are rated 1.5 megawatts each. This produces enough power for 40,000 homes.
Concerns – the majority of the population doesn’t reside in or near a desert, so the energy demand is not as high as it is in other areas. That being said, there is still a notable need for energy in desert climates, since temperatures are much higher on average than they are in temperate climates. Another issue is the fact that this desert real estate might be better suited for solar power arrays, due to the extreme levels of sunlight.
Wind Turbines in the Mountains
At higher altitudes, there are stronger winds. In addition, the elevation gradient of hilly areas might allow wind turbines to be placed closer together than they normally would, increasing the maximum potential electricity in an area of land. These qualities, combined with the limited population living in mountainous areas, makes mountain regions very suitable for wind energy.
Concerns – wind farms located in the mountains might also be ideal candidates for public complaints on the obstruction of nature. While less people live in mountainous areas than coastal regions, there is still a population that can notice the alterations that the windmills make on an appreciated natural landscape.
Wind Turbines in Airports
Airports are quite obviously manmade features that can occupy a considerable amount of space. Since they are already relatively lacking in nature, as well as being significant sources of noise pollution, they might also be ideal for wind farms. The airports themselves can make use of the electricity, or it can be brought to the grid of a nearby city.
The Galapagos Ecological Airport was made to be overwhelmingly green, befitting the huge biodiverse history of the Galapagos Islands. Among the immense, environmentally friendly resume of this airport of solar panels, endemic plant species, and ecologically responsible furniture, there are windmills on-site.
Concerns – these windmills have to be very carefully placed, and there might be many limitations on their specific locations. Windmills tend to capture more energy at greater heights, but those same heights could interfere with planes landing and taking off.
Wind Turbines off Highways
Highways and other major roads are also manmade features that stretch miles and miles throughout the world. Placing windmills near them keeps engineered turbines near engineered cars and roads, where there is already a lot of noise.
Concerns – while highway-based windmills are not necessarily placed in the middle of somewhere natural, some might find them to be obstructing their view of surrounding features. A long car drive through the country might be a little different if all you can see out your window are spinning white blades.
Wind Turbine Standards
The construction of these alternative windmills is covered from the variety of existing standards on wind energy. They address a wide range of considerations that come with their design. For example, ISO 12494:2017 – Atmospheric icing of structures would be applicable for wind turbines located in mountains and other places consistently exposed to lower temperatures. For more general purposes, IEC 61400 Ed. 4.0 b:2019 – Wind Energy Generation Systems – Part 1: Design Requirements and IEC 61400-2 Ed. 3.0 b:2013 – Wind Turbines Part 2: Small Wind Turbines cover windmill design.
Please visit the ANSI Webstore to learn more about Wind Turbine Standards
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