If you’re a ‘greenie’–if you’re concerned about the environment and fossil fuels and fresh air, you’ll be impressed by the first thing you see upon entering the Palm Springs, California area. Right there along I-10 is a gigantic wind farm.
I’m sure there’s some sort of method to this madness. It’s just not immediately obvious.
The windmills come in a variety of sizes and, though often clustered in straight lines, they seem sowed across the desert hills like wildflowers. Maybe scattered is the best word to describe what you see.
The tallest of the windmills are about 150 feet tall with 100 foot long blades! This is a huge installation. There are around 4,000 of them (I’ve heard a variety of numbers and will be damned if going to count them myself).
The reason these windmills are in this spot has everything to do with nature itself. It is built within the San Gorgonio Pass. This deep mountain pass is a natural conduit for wind which blows nearly continuously! It is one of the most consistently windy spots in the world.
What I’ve written so far is the good news. The bad news is this massive generator ‘only’ produces a bit over 600 megwatts. That’s not much more than the Palm Springs area itself needs.
If one of the world’s windiest places can only produce a moderate amount of electricity while commanding huge acreage what does that say about the prospects for wind generated electricity? I’m afraid it doesn’t say anything good.
Yes, the electricity produced is virtually free, but there’s still the cost of installation, maintenance, transmission and all those acres (which are a whole lot easier to come by in the desert). If this is the best wind power can offer it just doesn’t seem like a practical idea–at least not now with today’s technology.