Saturday, January 30, 2010

The No-Spin Zone

Via Hot Air, we learn of a wind turbine in Minnesota that's not spinning. It seems that the hydraulic fluid is cold and the wind turbine is frozen in time. They plan to get a contractor to install equipment that will heat the fluid to release the turbine, but it seems to me that installing powered equipment, either electrical or gas, will reduce the net efficiency of the wind turbine.

During the summer of 2008 we took a driving trip across the great Southwest and I was amazed at the huge wind turbine farms Boone Pickens has installed across west Texas. Mile after mile of these things, spinning resolutely to provide power from the wind that blows freely across the southern plains. I thought it was a great idea then and I haven't changed my mind on wind turbines. It may never make us totally independent of foreign oil, but if you can generate electricity from these things, it helps diversify our energy structure.

However, not all technology is transplantable. What works in dry hot conditions might not work in wet cold conditions. The folks in Minnesota have found that out. What is a good idea in one place might not be such a good idea somewhere else.

1 comment:

Rivrdog said...

I'm sure the petroleum industry labs can come up with a lube for those turbines that will work in cold weather.

I'm surprised that they haven't already. I would suggest that the lube for constant-speed propellers on aircraft might work, but I'm not a chemical engineer, just an old flyboy.