Combining easy daytrips with collecting photos of warrior wind turbines can be an enjoyable weekend pastime for the whole family. There are so many wind farms in the state of Iowa, that it’s becoming a hot trend. Giant wind turbines are awesome-looking, appealing to all ages. The sheer size of a giant wind turbine can not fully be appreciated, until standing beside one. Only then is it possible to understand how it feels to be an ant.
While it is very easy for children to appreciate these towers of power without understanding the technology, with one graphic and a bit of explanation, you’ll be armed with enough data to educate your whole family. And, if you’re lucky enough to live in Iowa, the list of wind farms provided below will kickstart your weekend.
Even if you don’t live in Iowa, the chances are good that you don’t live far from a windfarm. Do a quick internet search, and you and your family might have a great time stalking titans. Bang the roadtrip gong, pack a picnic, and don’t forget your camera!
Giant Sci-Fi Robot Warriors Bristling With Razor Sharp Blades
Like futuristic monuments to the Titan of Energy, vast arrays of wind turbines can really excite the senses. With a little imagination, they look like a cohort of giant sci-fi robot warriors rising sky-high on the horizon, bristling with razor sharp blades. Just look at them, whirling threateningly and flashing in the sunlight.
A new craze for photographing wind turbines is totally understandable. Who could resist these giant machines, bursting with so much x-factor? With over thirty wind farms in the state of Iowa alone, there’s a great array of awesome monsters within everyone’s easy reach, in any direction taken. Any day of the week is good, too, but the best day, of course, is “Windsday.”
The Landscape of Iowa is Bristling with Power
Shown in the photo at the top of the page is Hancock County Wind Energy Center in Hancock County, Iowa. Bristling with 148 sky-high “Vestas V47-660kW” wind turbines, it has the capacity to produce 97.68 megawatts of power, which is enough to serve approximately 25,000 homes.
Another of the many popular wind farms in Iowa is Whispering Willow Wind Farm. This monster cohort is occupying Franklin County, in north central Iowa, near Hampton. In operation by AlliantEnergy since December 2009, this wind farm consists of 121 Titan-like turbines. These bristling warriors are serious climate change mitigators, capable of generating enough power for 50,000 homes, or up to 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
Understanding The View At Whispering Willow Wind Farm
Whispering Willow East covers approximately 33,000 acres or approximately 51 square miles (or 140 square kilometers). Each one of these monster wind turbine titans is capable of producing approximately 1.65 megawatts. That’s enough lightning juice to fully power 400 homes. And they are tireless, ever-ready warriors, producing power approximately 90% of the time, depending upon sustainable wind speeds and the growling appetite of the electric grid.
Here are some more interesting facts to comprehend the view, while stalking sky-high sci-fi robot warriors:
• Power generation begins at 9 miles per hour with a maximum power generation of 27 miles per hour.
• The towers are tubular and made of rolled steel.
• The blades are made of fiberglass–reinforced polyester or wood epoxy.
• Height of the wind turbines is nearly 400 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade when a blade is straight up.
• The length of each blade is 131 feet. Each blade weighs 15,000 pounds.
• The nacelle weighs 104,000 pounds. The hub weighs 42,000 pounds. The total weight of each turbine is more than 450,000 pounds.
Iowans Know Exactly Which Way The Wind Is Blowing
Wind farms are located all over Iowa, but are more prevalent in the north and west portion of the state. This is because winds in these areas tend to be stronger. Iowans always know exactly which way the wind is blowing. They clearly understand the benefits of wind power to the environment. Wind turbines do not emit greenhouse gases, nor do they destroy natural resources, such as wetlands or animal habitats.
Over $10 billion has been invested to date in wind power projects, with another $280 million arriving soon from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.Manufacturing operations and facilities have also played a big role Iowan economics. In this state, wind power sits in the front seat.
Wind farms have benefitted Iowans by bringing in millions of dollars for infrastructure projects. The wind power industry in Iowa employs six to seven thousand people. In addition to federal programs, the state of Iowa encourages development of renewable electricity sources through a 1 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit. Also, power generating equipment is exempt from sales tax, and both generating equipment and facilities receive property tax breaks.
Wind Power Development In Iowa Began In 1983
The development of wind power in Iowa began in 1983 with a state law requiring investor-owned utilities to buy a total of 105 MW of power from wind generated electricity. Historically, this is one of the first renewable electricity portfolio standards in the country. Builders of wind power installations in Iowa were thus assured of a market for the electricity they would produce.
Iowa is First in the U.S. for Wind Power Generation Capacity
In 2009 and 2010, Iowa led the U.S. in electrical power generated by wind, at 14.2% and 15.4%, respectively. This was up from 7.7% in 2008, following a large increase in the installed capacity in 2008. Some of the electricity generated by Iowan wind power is sold to utility companies in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Iowa Is Currently Third In The Nation For Installed Wind Power Capacity
Currently, Iowa is a leading U.S. state in wind power generation with 27.4% of the state’s electricity generation coming from wind in 2013. At the end of 2013, Iowa had produced 5,137 megawatts of capacity, third only to Texas and California. In fact, Iowa generated more electricity from wind power in 2013 than California, even though it had less wind power capacity installed.
Sightseeing List Of Wind Farms In Iowa:
Top Of Iowa – near Joice, west of I-35
Intrepid – between Schaller and Storm Lake, north of U.S. 20
Story County I – north of Colo
Story County II – south of Humboldt, Story and Hardin counties
Pomeroy – between Pomeroy and Fonda, along Iowa 7
Endeavor – near Lake-Park, Harris along Iowa 9
Century – north of Blairsburg, along U.S. 69, west of I-35
Buena Vista – Alta, Peterson, Truesdale area
Victory – near Arcadia and Westside, U.S. 30
Carroll – northwest of Carroll, near Mt. Carmel & Breda
Hancock County – Klemme
Hardin Hilltop – north of Jefferson, 7 towers
Charles City – west of Charles City
Walnut – near Walnut (n.e. of Council Bluffs), mostly south of I-80
Whispering Willow Wind Farm – Franklin County, between Hampton and Iowa Falls
Adair – South of Adair, near I-80
Barton -near Kensett, east of I-35 Crystal Lake – between Buffalo Center and Crystal Lake, Hancock and Winnebago Counties
Pioneer Prairie – Howard & Mitchell Counties
Crosswind Energy – southeast of Ruthven, U.S. 18
Lost Lakes – West of Milford – Dickinson County
Iowa Lakes Superior – near Superior, U.S. 71
Iowa Lakes Lakota – near Lakota, Iowa 9
Laurel – west of Laurel
Elk – Greeley
Hawkeye – near Hawkeye & Richfield
Rippey – between Rippey & Grand Jct
Vienna – south of Gladbrook
More Iowan Wind Farms Rising
Viewing a wind farm under construction is an excellent way to get a grip on the true size of a wind turbine titan. It’s easier to appreciate these amazing monuments to human ingenuity when they are in pieces on the ground. This is when we really begin to understand the towering scale of wind turbines. When the pieces are still on the ground, it’s easier to comprehend that just the size of a blade is 131 feet long, and it weighs more than seven tons.
Five projects in Iowa, totaling over 1,000 MW of capacity, are currently under construction by Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy. Expected to be completed by the end of 2015, these wind farms are in O’Brien, Marshall, Webster, Grundy, and Madison counties. 448 wind turbines are to be constructed, manufactured by Siemens. Costing nearly two billion dollars, this is Iowa’s largest economic development project to date. The largest of the five projects, the Highland, is in O’Brien county, and will have 500 MW of capacity, making it Iowa’s largest.
Iowa’s Future State Flower? The Wind Turbine!
The wild rose was adopted as the state flower of Iowa in 1897, but this might be the right time for an upgrade.