Google tilts with windmills
Sinks $38.8m into air power
Google has sunk $38.8 million into a pair of American wind farms, calling the move its first direct investment in a "utility-scale" renewable energy project.
On Monday, with a post to the Official Google blog, the online ad broker said it has invested in a pair of North Dakota wind farms developed by an outfit known as NextEra Energy Resources. Together, Google says, the two farms generate 169.5 megawatts of power, enough to support more than 55,000 homes.
"We’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy - in a way that makes good business sense too," wrote Rick Needham, a Google "green" business operations manager.
Needham points out that Google has been pushing for renewable energy policies through its Google.org philanthropic arm and making investments in fledgling renewable energy outfits such as eSolar and AltaRock. But he says this is the first time the web giant has invested in a project that rivals a utility for size.
"We’ve been looking at investments in renewable energy projects, like the one we just signed, that can accelerate the deployment of the latest clean energy technology while providing attractive returns to Google and more capital for developers to build additional projects," he explains.
Earlier this year, Mountain View subsidiary Google Energy received the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to buy and sell power on the wholesale market just as a utility would. The company has said it wants the freedom to purchase renewable energy - which might include wind power - for its globe-spanning collection of custom-built data centers.
Google now owns a 20 per cent stake in a NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary that operates the two wind farms. According Needham, the farms include 113 turbines and that each turbine is designed to constantly adjust the pitch angle of its blades in an effort to maximize efficiency. ®
News at 10
Windfarms have to be built *somewhere*.
Every time anyone's ever built any windfarm, some group of people have complained that it spoils a view that used to be amazing and that, really, the windfarm should have been built somewhere no-one would really mind the view being spoilt.
In fact, this is true for *every* building in an otherwise empty area (and many urban ones, too). Windfarms kinda need to be built in wide open spaces, so it's probably true that every windfarm has been opposed on aesthetic grounds, wheras you can hide nuclear plants in valleys and the like.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
His only problem with them is that he thinks they are ugly!? Personally I think they are physically beautiful objects on the landscape, particularly when I consider what they represent for the environment (even he admits others find them attractive to have around).
Now all the manufacturers need to do is find more ecologically efficient ways to build them (they take a lot of energy and material to build) and they'd be perfect.
Read your article.
It's interesting that the landowners and locals who actually *live* with them 24/7 don't seem to mind them. This has not been the universal experience of residents in the UK but I'm not sure what the relative wind speeds of UK and US wind turbines are. I think UK ones are also *much* more closely spaced. In contrast the ones in the picture seem to be fairly scattered at fairly low density around the landscape. UK ones AFAIK are more like the California wind farms.
I can understand how turbines *might* make more annoying sound. Wind is roughly a white noise spectrum like surf noise, but turbines will likely be a more cyclic sound. I've found surf noise to be quite soothing and restful whereas a cyclic noise tend to make the brain want to lock to its pattern, keeping you awake while it does so.
What *always* beats me is why do all of these windfarm builders *insist* on painting the towers White? I get the blade tips *might* be a hazard to low flying aircraft but they could make a bit more effort to blend in. Does a coat of Green paint add that *much* to the unit price?