The Wind Beneath My Energy

The Wind Beneath My Energy

Jason Loper
Oct 18, 2010

Last weekend my husband and I decided to take a little mini-vacation in southern Indiana. As we made our way south from Chicago on I-65, we happened upon the awesome sight of a vast collection of wind turbines. I did a little research to find out what this wind farm is all about.

About ninety miles north of Indianapolis, there are giant white wind turbines spread across the farmland on both sides of I-65. These turbines are part of the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, a joint venture between BP Wind Energy and Dominion Resources. This wind farm alone generates enough power to provide electricity to 120,000 homes.

As you can see in the first image, when you happen upon the wind turbines while driving along the interstate they're quite a sight to see. The blades on the white turbines are 132-feet long and they sit atop 265-foot tall pylons bringing them to total height of 400-feet. Set against the flat backdrop of northwestern Indiana, the turbines appear massive.

It may seem that rural Indiana would be an odd choice for a wind farm. However, a preliminary study a few years ago proved that this area is ideal for the amount of wind needed. The turbines produce peak energy when winds reach 22 MPH and stronger winds do not produce more energy. The turbines are also a boon to landowners, who lease out portions of their acreage.

One of the first questions my husband and I asked one another was what would happen to the turbines in the case of high winds or, God forbid, a tornado. (This is the rural Midwest, after all.) Apparently, when winds reach 55 MPH the turbines' blades rotate 90 degrees in their sockets so their edges face windward and dump the energy, preventing any damage. I'm still not sure how this would work in a tornado situation and I have images of a blade impaling a flying cow but I'm sure the engineers have allowed for such acts of nature.

(Image: Jason Loper)

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