I’m still working my way through photos of our recent trip. But here’s one of the local (to them) wind farm that we passed by on our way home. (OK, actually, we had to make a detour to get some photos, but still…)
I’m not a fan (no pun intended) of wind farms, but I really do love the engineering involved.
It’s a tricky relationship. Let me explain by quickly running through the pros and cons as I see them.
They’re clean energy. Much better than coal, and of course we need to embrace renewable energy. But they’re also hugely inefficient. This farm has 48 massive turbines spread over a massive area, but can only produce a maximum of 110MW. That’s just 6% of what Koeberg turns out. And Koeberg is clean energy too.
That 110MW figure is assuming 100% efficiency, which will never happen because then the wind would stop. Sometimes there’s no wind. Sometimes there is not enough wind. Sometimes there is too much wind. You’re lucky if wind farms are 40% efficient. Koeberg turns out 1800MW, rain or shine, wind or not. Nuclear doesn’t care if there’s a breeze.
And yet, even though you are producing (at the theoretical best) some 6% of the power, you need all of the infrastructure, (aside from the turbines themselves): the roads, the massive substations, the pylons (so many pylons!).
And the space required – SO MUCH! Just because we have a lot of that space in SA doesn’t mean we should fill it with these industrial behemoths. When my kids were young and louder, we had a rule – if there was noise everywhere (e.g. a kids’ play park), no big problem with them being vociferous. But if theirs was the only noise anyone could hear, then we asked them to quieten down. Don’t ruin the silence for others.
So, in the same vein (and I know this is a massive oversimplification), by all means stick these up all over our already-built cities, but please leave the empty spaces exactly that: empty. I’m already tired of every long distance view of the Isle of Man having an army of wind turbines ruining it:
They kill birds. Their lights ruin the nighttime landscape of the Karoo. And their presence ruins the daytime views.
And while the website for the wind farm we drove through sings the virtues of their facility through some amazing facts and figures, it also states in the very first paragraph that it’s “less than 2 hours from Cape Town”,
Ha. Maybe by helicopter:
Still, I’m absolutely sure that all the other facts and figures they supply and that I can’t immediately verify are completely correct. Right?
But, as I mentioned, for me, there is still something kind of magical about being close up to them and watching them at work. And yes, I use the electricity, I know. Like I said, it’s complicated.
Jeez. All of this just because I haven’t sorted the photos from our 4 days away.