The Steel Winds windmills project is nearing completion. The eight turbines already in place will each generate 2.5 megawatts whenever they are turning, for a maximum of 20 megawatts. The placement of the windmills is meant to minimize the amount of wind shadowing that one windmill will do to another based on the prevailing westerly flow.
Steel Winds is unique in its size and proximity to an urban area. It’s also imminently expandable to the west into the shallow lake, dependent only on political will.
No form of alternative energy is yet cost effective. Without government subsidies there is no way these windmills would ever produce affordable energy, but there they are. 20 megawatts is not a lot of power – the Niagara Falls power project generates 1200 times as much – but it’s a start at using a renewable resource. I think, that if people accept the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of the blades mixing with the lap-lap-lap of the water – and not too many birds get killed – we might someday see many more windmills stretching to the western horizon. I personally do not consider them an eyesore any more than I consider the Cape Cod windmills an eyesore. Different era, different architecture, same result.
Communities have been split on the desire to raise (and raze!) windmills in their town. The same is true for virtually any unique or unfamiliar architecture – that is, until it’s no longer unique or unfamiliar. So it will be with windmills. Once they are a common site – and I can envision thousands of them across the countryscape – the rallying cries will die down and we will accept their presence as a (more or less) harmless way to obtain energy.
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog about the Buffalo waterfront becoming a center for different types of renewable energy: Solar, wind, water and wave; as well as a showcase for existing hydroelectric, coal and ethanol power production. I think this is a great idea that would work well with a weather museum next to the Bass Pro.