(image via Caveman92223)
The world currently has 121 gigawatts of installed wind energy capacity. Most of this electricity is generated via large wind farms. While the newer installations are made up of larger, more efficient turbines with slower-moving blades, earlier wind farms, like those in the California, were made up of thousands of small, fast-spinning turbines that have had a devastating impact on not only avian populations, but also on wind energy development in general, as they have created strong political tension and anti-wind constituencies. Below are some of the world’s most amazing wind farms and why.
Wild Horse Wind Farm -Kittitas County, Washington, USA
(images: Horizon Wind Energy; Blush Response)
Nameplate capacity: 230 MW
Why it’s amazing: With 127 turbines scattered over 86,000 acres, Wild Horse is huge. The Project has brought new jobs and approximately $1M annually in local property tax revenues to Kittitas County. Despite theapparent size of the project, the turbines, underground power lines, roads, and substation blend well with other land uses, and the wind farm itself takes up only about 165 acres.
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farms – Southern California, USA
(image via sky#walker; Center for Land Use Interpretation)
Nameplate capacity: 562 MW
Why it’s amazing: Covering virtually every ridgeline in the mountain pass between the Mojave Desert and California’s central valley, the 5,000 wind turbines of Tehachapi are owned by a dozen separate companies. With consistent winds flowing between the Mojave Desert and the San Joaquin Valley, Tehachapi has long been a mecca for wind energy testing and experimentation
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center – Taylor, Texas, USA
(images via forhisrenown; Mesquite53; mandaloo)
Nameplate capacity: 735 mw
Why it’s amazing: Horse Hollow is the largest wind farm in the world (year ending 2008). The Texas wind farm was subject to one of the nation’s first nuisance lawsuits against a wind farm. Plaintiffs filed suit unhappy about the appearance of the turbines. Soon after, the judge ruled that under Texas law, they had no standing to bring suit based on aesthetics.
Barrow Offshore Wind Farm – East Irish Sea, UK
(image via BOWind)
Nameplate capacity: 90 MW
Why it’s amazing: Besides the fact that Barrow is owned and operated by a company called Dong Energy, it also happens to be the largest offshore wind farm in the UK – but not for long. The UK has tremendous offshore wind energy potential and several projects currently under construction that will make Barrow look small in comparison.
Roscoe Wind Farm – Roscoe, Texas, USA
(images: Roscoe Wind; Chad Wright)
Nameplate capacity: 335.5 MW
Why it’s amazing: Once all four phases and 627 wind turbines are completed and installed in mid-2009, Roscoe will be the largest wind farm in the U.S. and one of the world’s largest wind farms, with a generating capacity of 781.5 MW.
Middelgrunden Wind Turbine Cooperative – Copenhagen, Denmark
(images via wikimedia)
Nameplate capacity: 40 MW
Why it’s amazing: Like many other small wind farms in Denmark, Middelgrunden is cooperatively owned and has never taken on debt. Cooperative members own shares corresponding to 1/40,500 of the partnership. Despite how many shares a person owns, they have just one vote. Middelgrunden has also shown that offshore wind installations can operate without incident in popular shipping lanes and recreational areas. In fact, Middelgrunden has become a bit of a tourist attraction.
Maple Ridge Wind Farm – Lowville, New York, USA
Nameplate capacity: 320 MW
Why it’s amazing: Maple Ridge has 195 1.65 MW wind turbines that account for three quarters of the wind power capacity of New York; making it the biggest wind farm east of the Mississippi. The site was chosen because it lies at an elevation of 1600-1800 feet and gets strong lake-effect winds from nearby Lake Ontario. Maple Ridge has been a boon to local landowners but continues to be the object of strong political opposition.
Altamont Pass – Central California, USA
(images via footloosiety)
Nameplate capacity: 576 MW
Why it’s amazing: Home to one of the oldest wind farms in the U.S. Altamont Pass is still the largest concentration of wind turbines in the world. Unfortunately, wind turbines at Altamont Pass killed more birds of prey than any other wind farm in North America. The site is located on a major bird migratory route and there are large concentrations of raptors in this area including the largest population of breeding golden eagles in the world.
San Gorgonio Pass – Palm Springs, California, USA
(images via NASA; Caveman92223)
Nameplate capacity: 359 MW
Why it’s amazing: The San Gorgonio wind installations generate about 893 gigawatt-hours of electricity. San Gorgonio Pass has proven to be a reliable location for wind energy production due to stable wind flows caused by warm desert air mixing with cooler coastal air, producing average wind speeds of 15 to 20 mph. San Gorgonio is unique in that winds generally are strongest during the summer months, when electricity demands are at their highest.