The industry of the present future

I’ve seen lots of semis towing gigantic wind turbine parts across the highways of Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado recently. I suspect it has more to do with last year’s surge in oil prices than BHO’s stimulus package. Judging by their size, these things take a long time to get built and installed.

Wind turbine part on the move.

Wind turbine part on the move.

Whatever reason they’re getting there, it’s gratifying to see it actually happening. Nebraska has a lot of potential for wind power on account of being so, well, empty. To say nothing of windy Wyoming. Wind farms are truly massive structures which just wouldn’t work in, say, Menlo Park, California. The problem is getting the power the turbines create to the electrical grid. A real ramping up of wind power generation would require a whole lot of infrastructure construction, a real commitment to making it viable. Let’s hope what I saw rolling down rural highways is the future arriving in giant chunks. After all, surely nothing this massive gets built in a place like Kimball, Nebraska, just for the hell of it:


6 thoughts on “The industry of the present future

  1. Brad Green

    I see lots of these rolling north on I35. Always wondered where they were headed to.

  2. courtmerrigan Post author

    Yeah, Brad, I think the first picture was taken in Texas. Unfortunately I haven’t ever had a camera to hand when I’ve seen these things rolling down the highway. Texas leads the nation in wind power production, I believe, if you can believe that.

  3. Keith Malinak

    But is the cost worth it? I saw a figure of $50,000 to build a windmill and $30,000 associated to maintain it every year. Yikes.

    Couple that with the relatively small amount of electricity they produce, how about we just build a nuclear energy plant in say, Kimball? Much more efficient…and clean!

  4. courtmerrigan Post author

    Keith, I imagine it’s a issue of scale, and doing what it takes to ramp that scale. According to this article the potential for wind energy is 23 times current electricity use. Let’s say they’re off by 50%. That’s still a lot of electricity.

    I’m certainly no expert. Wind power is probably just one part of the mix we’re going to need to get off the petroleum smack pipe. Nuclear no doubt has a role to play. That puts us in bed with radical environmentalist James Lovelock, who’s a big advocate of nuclear power. Interesting bedfellow, eh?

  5. NateVA

    It’s all about base load, man. Until storage capability is increased (huge fucking battery towers over the midwest), there’s no getting around nuclear and sweet, sweet coal.

    Transmission is the long pole in the tent, of course, but increased transmission efficiency is only gonna lead to lower utility costs and, thereby, increased use.

    Anyway, don’t sell your BHP Billiton stock just yet.

  6. courtmerrigan Post author

    Well, supposedly the Feds are going to start putting up that infrastructure, or have pledged to. Some of it must be going on. They aren’t building those huge wind farms for charity.

    You’re right about increased use. The devil of all conservation efforts, I suppose.

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