Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Windmills as far as the eye can see. . . and then much farther

What with congress and President Obama trying to pass the cap and trade legislation that will add over $1,000 per year in energy cost to your household budget there is again a lot of hot air being generated about wind power.

So I got to thinking about what our everyday world would look like if powered by the wind. It would take about 1,500 big windmills to replace the power generated by the Limerick nuclear plant. When I say big windmills I mean that each of them would be about 600 feet tall, about as tall as the 60 story buildings down in Philadelphia. Those windmills would have droning rotors 400 feet in diameter; and to be efficient they would need to be spaced about a half mile apart (6 times the diameter of the rotors).

So, just to replace one large power plant, we're talking about a line of windmills 750 miles long, or else a square grid of colossal windmills almost 28 miles on a side - 750 square miles of windmills.

If the windmills were built in a single line heading south down the median strip of I-95 you could drive all the way to Florida without being more than 1,200 feet from one of them.

If the windmills were built in a grid pattern they would cover all of Montgomery County, and there would still be about 300 square miles of windmills slopping over the edges into Chester, Berks, Delaware, Bucks, Lancaster and Philadelphia counties. The luckiest people in this area would live in the middle of a grid square, 1,700 feet in each direction from four constantly whooshing windmills, each one mounted on a tower twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty's torch. Most people would get to live much closer to a windmill. Some would get to live right under the whirling blades; but not to worry, even a major league pitcher probably wouldn't be able to throw a baseball high enough to hit the tip of a blade as it whizzed through the air overhead at 200 miles per hour.

On the plus side, I imagine there would be some really neat graffiti on the towers after a while.

whoosh. . . whoosh. . . whoosh. . . whoosh. . . whoosh

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