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WIND TURBINES IN TEXAS

Shackleford County Wind Farms
Inherit Their Wind

Photos & Travel Notes by Gerald Massey
Wind Turbine blade in transport
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
Texas is famous for its cowboy landscape: West Texas, The Panhandle, and South Texas. There is now appearing on the western landscapes a new version of a centuries old machine, The Windmill. Windmill is nothing new to Texas. But, there is a new breed of windmill - the Wind Turbine.
Wind Turbines, Buffalo Gap TX, US277W
"It is most interesting to see the old classic windmill present with the new Wind Turbine."
- Gerald Massey, June 2010
The idea of using wind for energy has existed since ancient times. It is not sure when the use of the windmill came about. One thought is the Crusades brought the idea to Europe from Persia. Another idea is that the Europeans developed it independently. Evidence of windmills in England dates from the 12th century. Windmills are said to have existed in Holland from about 1200.

Recently I made a trip from my home in Shreveport, Louisiana for the primary purpose of viewing the fantastic Ft Griffin Fandangle outdoor musical at Albany, Texas. I elected to stay in Abilene only thirty miles, in one of the new type of Inn, an extended stay Inn where for a nice reduced price I stayed there for a week in a kitchenette room. While I was at Abilene I pursued my hobby of photography. My primary subject is churches but, I also photograph other subjects, including towns. This led me to tour much of the area all around Abilene up to 100-miles away. In doing this I got to see and also photograph these wind turbines and wind farms.
Wind Turbines, Buffalo Gap TX, US277W
Wind Turbines near Buffalo Gap, TX
US277 West
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
It was quite impressive when I came upon The FPL Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, the Worldís Largest Wind Farm located on highway US-277 about 20-miles south of Abilene. This wind farm has 421 wind turbines spreading across 47,000 acres of land in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas, with 291 GE Energy 1.5 megawatt wind turbines and 130 Siemens 2.3 megawatt wind turbines generating a total capacity of 735 megawatts.

(Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_Hollow_Wind_Energy_Center
http://www.metaefficient.com/renewable-power/the-largest-wind-farm-in-the-world-horse-hollow.html)
Wind Turbine tower base
"There was one turbine tower very close to the highway behind a gate at the end of a very short road" - Gerald Massey, June 2010
As I went to the Fandangle at Albany I had to drive through a Wind Farm on the way. It was interesting seeing it in daylight. The Fandangle lasted until 11 PM. Driving back through this wind farm at night, the moon was out quite bright enabling me to see the wind farm bathed in bright moon light. The towers were so tall they had to have flashing red lights on them mainly for aircraft safety I would guess. The entire farm red lights all flashed on and off at exactly the same time. It was quite a sight to see.
Wind Turbine blade in transport
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
Four days later I was in the Seymour area, about 80-miles north of Abilene. As I traveled north out of Seymour on highway US-82 there was an eighteen wheeler broke down on the side of the road two miles from Seymour. This eighteen wheeler was hauling a wind turbine fan blade. The trailer was specially equipped to haul one of these long enormous objects. It extended out a longer distance than the average trailer, and was equipped with special wheeled dolly at the end, and a special rack to hold the blade. Even with this special long trailer the blade still extended way out past the end of the trailer. This configuration made this an oversized load that required a special escort vehicle. The end of the blade that would fasten to a hub was at the truck cab end of the trailer. It stood above the truck cab dwarfing it. It had many huge bolts sticking out of it for assembly purposes. There also appeared to be some sort of fabric covering over the entire end of the blade. The size of the components of the wind turbine not including the tower it sits on is most awesome and really canít be comprehended until up beside them.

I used to work for the Kansas City Southern Railroad, and am now retired. When I went back for a visit at my old work place I shared some of this with my fellow employees. They stated how that they see these blades being hauled on railroad cars, one blade to a car because they are so long and huge.
Wind farm north of Roscoe, Texas
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
The next day I was traveling north and came to another wind farm on Ranch Road 608 about three miles north of Roscoe. There was an operating wind turbine very close to the highway. I drove over to it via the gravel access road. I got pictures of it from maybe 15-20 feet.
Wind turbine tower base -  Roscoe, Texas
"The diameter of the tower was larger than my car, maybe twenty feet in diameter. There were these huge bolts all around the base maybe less than a foot apart holding the tower in place." - Gerald Massey
While at this spot I noticed a tower that was being constructed with a large installation crane in place towering over the naked installed tower. I drove over to it. All the turbine towers have access roads to them. The new construction was very close to the road but behind a fence with a locked gate with no construction taking place. Fortunatedly my camera had a very good zoom lens which allowed me to see and photograph the construction site.
Crane, and wind turbine under construction -  Roscoe, Texas
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
The sight through the viewfinder on the camera was quite awesome. There was the huge crawler crane. I could see that it had a large quantity of huge counter balance weights on it. The treads on it were enormous. It rested on special wood flooring that rested on special graveled underlayment to make sure the ground would hold it up. I am very curious to know what the reach was on the boom. I would make a guess of maybe 300-feet. I could see the name and model on it. The name was Libeherr and Model LR 1300. There was a very large boom truck sitting beside it with a huge boom on it. It was dwarfed by the huge crawler crane. There was the fan laying next to the boom truck with some of the blades attached to itís ďnoseĒ piece. This nose piece seemed to be larger than the boom truck itself. There were sling cables attached to the assembled fan blade as if the next step at the next work day would be to lift the fan blade assembly into place on top of the tower. That would have been a most interesting sight to see.
Crane, and wind turbine under construction -  Roscoe, Texas
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010

There is a Roscoe Wind Farm located about 45-miles southwest of Abilene, which is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. It will annually produce enough energy to power 60,000 homes and save approximately 375,000 tons per year in greenhouse gas emissions, The project will help Texas meet its renewable energy goal of 5,000 new megawatts of its power from renewable sources by 2015. In 2006, Texas became the Nationís leader in installed wind capacity.

North America has some of the windiest sites in the world. There's no indication we'll be running out of wind anytime soon. However, there aren't a lot of sites with enough wind to support a large scale wind farm

It takes about six months for a turbine to recover the energy required to build and operate it.

According to the industry, over 16,800 MW of wind power capacity was installed in the U. S. as of January 2008. This has generated (annually) over 51 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity - enough to power over five million homes. It is believed that by 2015, the number of turbines will increase threefold.

The biggest problem on the horizon for wind energy is the installation of transmission lines, the network of electrical connectors that will actually bring the electricity from the turbines to the areas most in need (the east and west coasts).

While the cost of manufacture and installation has been arranged, it's not clear who will pay the tremendous cost of installing the connecting infrastructure.

West Texas Wind Festival
October 16th, 2010
The 4th annual West Texas Wind Festival will be held in Roscoe, Texas. Last year's festival featured a number of amazing events including helicoptor rides over the Roscoe Wind Farm.

Gerald Massey
August 2010

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