On Wednesday, May 28, 2008, while trekking in a U-Haul truck from Mt. Airy, NC, to our new home in Erie,
PA, we pulled off at a travelers' center along I79 in West Virginia for a bit of a rest. While on the
exit road heading into the parking area, I noticed what at first appeared to be a very long, slender
wing - perhaps from a high performance sailplane. As we got closer, I could tell that the aspect ratio
was much too high to be an airplane wing, and once the round root section came into view, it became
apparent that the behemoth was a blade from a very large wind turbine. In fact, it was a 130-foot-long
replacement blade headed for the
Maple Ridge Wind Farm, in Lowville, NY (which is a misnomer because the site was selected for its
elevation). According to the tractor trailer driver, the blades have a nasty habit of slapping the tower
shaft when certain wind conditions prevail, and the composite blades shatter utterly in the cold temperatures
of upstate New York (or maybe when a turkey or vulture - or small Cessna - flies into one ;).
Here is a facility that machines the massive (20-ton) rotor hubs for another company's turbines using
state-of-the-art CNC machining.
Thanks to Terry W. for the link.
This wind turbine blade was shipping out of Texas, where it was transferred from the tractor that
brought it from the manufacturing plant of Vestas, in Brazil (headquartered in Denmark, where they have been building windmills
for a looooong time). Vestas began construction on its first U.S.
facility in Colorado in 2007. In 2008, a
Center opened in Texas. They have facilities all over the world.
The Maple Ridge Wind Farm turbines are Vestas model
MW, which are 82 meters in diameter and, you guessed it, produce up to 1.65 MW of power. From press
releases, it appears these models sell for around $2,5000,000US. I do not know if that is an installed
There are 68 attachment bolts - a highway officer that was weighing the load (notice the scales under
the wheels) climbed up and counter them. It is hard to tell from the photos, but the blade was so long
that a separate wheeled trailer was attached near the tip.
According to Forbes:
"Vestas Wind Systems market share for wind turbine generators (WTG) [had] a leading stake of 25%
in 2006." "Vestas' competitors GE, Enercon and Gamesa Eolica had around 15% each of the market, while
Siemens Wind Power and Suzlon held market shares just below 10% each, MAKE Consulting said."
According to Vestas, "We install a wind turbine every four hours. Globally."
Do a Google search on
vestas order and you will be amazed at how many they sell! This high oil price market
is a real boon for Vestas.
Hmmm... Come to think of
it, I wonder if anyone checked to see if there were any Illegals hiding inside that thing?????
You just never know
what interesting thing you are going to see. The ubiquity of picture-taking devices nearly guarantees
somebody, somewhere, will capture just about everything that happens. A Cool Pic indeed!
These images have been chosen for their uniqueness. Subject matter ranges from
historic events, to really cool phenomena in science and engineering, to relevant
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