Wind Turbine Construction

Thanks to son Steve, I’ve been following the technology of the modern wind turbines. During a visit to my parents in Lansing, we were driving along the highway when I saw this view across a field of nearly-ripe soybeans. I grabbed my camera and took the picture, thinking this would be as close as I’d be able to get. For the heck of it, I drove their car along the road to see if we might be able to get a somewhat closer view. I expected to encounter no trespassing signs, a gate, or something, but as we got closer, the coast looked clear.

I found the driveway the construction crew had been using, stopped the car, and using the telephoto lens was able to get this picture. From previous experience with these installations, I’ve learned the companies that operate them are very fussy about who is allowed to get near. The driveway continued along for about 1/4 mile. There were no pickup trucks, no security shacks, no impediments of any kind, so I got back in the car and drove slowly down toward the construction project. Then I remembered it was Saturday, and figured the crew was off for the weekend.

I pulled up close to the site, got out of the car, listening all the while for someone to yell at me to get the heck out of there, but no one appeared to be around. My attention was grabbed by the huge yet graceful blades sitting in racks along the ground. Bear in mind that the hubs with the bolts sticking out of them are much taller than I am. The hatches visible in the picture are for accessing the blades from the inside. The bolts you see are probably 1″ bolts… massive stuff.

I’ve been told that each blade is 40 meters long, and that the tower itself is 80 meters high. As I mentioned earlier, the graceful curves of these massive blades have to be seen up close to be appreciated. My heart was still beating fast as I was taking these pictures. I really wanted to run my hand along the curve of the blades, but I was afraid someone was watching me. I was pretty sure I was alone, but felt kind of creepy at the same time.

The last picture I took shows part of the massive crane that lifts these huge parts up onto an ever higher post. Beside the partially completed tower is the hub that the blades will bolt to. The nacelle that houses the generator, shaft, and control mechanisms did not appear to be onsite at this time. Mom and Dad decided to stay in the car as I looked around the construction site and took my pictures. I finally joined them back in the car, backed around and left this site. How neat it was to be able to look around and have some idea of what all the parts meant and how they’d eventually go together. Next time I drive by, I’ll bet those blades will be spinning in the wind.

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