Tuesday, April 11, 2017

California Windpower

Driving west on I-5, you come across this sight after you climb from the desert into the mountains and then descend back down toward San Diego.  Windmills.  Many, many, many windmills, for miles and miles and miles.  According to a Wikipedia entry, California has about 5,700 MW of wind turbines which can supply about 5% of California's electrical needs, or power about 400,000 homes.  I think this one is the Ocotillo Wind Energy Project, and unbelievably, this is only the fifth largest project in CA.  

Literally MILES of windmills.  And more MILES.

Three bladers (check out the blades on the ground)

Very tall and big mills....

Older mills on steel grid posts (reminds me of oil derricks) ....

Older two bladed mills (there's one like these on Mt. Tom in Hadley, but it doesn't seem to work)....

Some of this and some of that....

Here's why they are here.  This is a narrow valley, and this mountain forms one side, with another mountain forming the other side.  

To the east is that desert you've seen in other posts.  To the west is the Pacific Ocean.  When the sun comes up, the desert heats up more quickly than the ocean.  The air above the desert heats up, becomes less dense and more buoyant, and rises.  As it does, the air in the valley rushes in to replace the air that went up.  This creates a VERY strong wind through the valley, as we experienced at our campsite.  It was blowing, and the camper was rocking, all day long.  

At night however, the desert cools down, and the ocean is warmer, and the wind blows the other way, but not as much.  In the morning it's calm, but as the day progresses, the cycle repeats itself.  Free, predictable energy, that's what that is.

The wikipedia entry on Wind Power in California has more current statistics on California's wind production.  Oddly enough, the state website on wind energy is about 10 years out of date :-)

I'm a firm believer that any slide show is improved by a colorful sunset.  Here's the sunset from that campground in the valley with the wind.  This campground, incidentally, is the one seen in the Gear-Head post, and the valley seen in that post is this same valley, just a few miles away from the windmills.

1 comment:

  1. I'm all for renewable energy, but still find it shocking to see how the landscape changes with the windmills. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!