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back to article Google tilts with windmills

Google has sunk $38.8 million into a pair of American wind farms, calling the move its first direct investment in a "utility-scale" renewable energy project. On Monday, with a post to the Official Google blog, the online ad broker said it has invested in a pair of North Dakota wind farms developed by an outfit known as NextEra …

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FunkUniversity

Enough energy for 55,000 homes equals enough energy for how many more servers? No matter, I recommend that you take a look at an excellent article about a wind farm that may not be all roses - located in central Illinois, at:

http://funks2.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/____________windfarms__________________-seemed-like-such-a-great-idea-until-they-showed-up-near-my-house/

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News at 10

Windfarms have to be built *somewhere*.

Every time anyone's ever built any windfarm, some group of people have complained that it spoils a view that used to be amazing and that, really, the windfarm should have been built somewhere no-one would really mind the view being spoilt.

In fact, this is true for *every* building in an otherwise empty area (and many urban ones, too). Windfarms kinda need to be built in wide open spaces, so it's probably true that every windfarm has been opposed on aesthetic grounds, wheras you can hide nuclear plants in valleys and the like.

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@FunkUniveristy

Read your article.

It's interesting that the landowners and locals who actually *live* with them 24/7 don't seem to mind them. This has not been the universal experience of residents in the UK but I'm not sure what the relative wind speeds of UK and US wind turbines are. I think UK ones are also *much* more closely spaced. In contrast the ones in the picture seem to be fairly scattered at fairly low density around the landscape. UK ones AFAIK are more like the California wind farms.

I can understand how turbines *might* make more annoying sound. Wind is roughly a white noise spectrum like surf noise, but turbines will likely be a more cyclic sound. I've found surf noise to be quite soothing and restful whereas a cyclic noise tend to make the brain want to lock to its pattern, keeping you awake while it does so.

What *always* beats me is why do all of these windfarm builders *insist* on painting the towers White? I get the blade tips *might* be a hazard to low flying aircraft but they could make a bit more effort to blend in. Does a coat of Green paint add that *much* to the unit price?

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

His only problem with them is that he thinks they are ugly!? Personally I think they are physically beautiful objects on the landscape, particularly when I consider what they represent for the environment (even he admits others find them attractive to have around).

Now all the manufacturers need to do is find more ecologically efficient ways to build them (they take a lot of energy and material to build) and they'd be perfect.

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Enough for....

"169.5 megawatts of power, enough to support more than 55,000 homes"

Or in the case of the mega data centre builders about 2/3 of a data centre, but still credit where credit's due at least they aren't building a "really green" data centre in a coal fired state and then splashing the paint around. No specfic targets intended, definitely not having a poke at IBM or Facebook.

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Why?

The googleplex needs power 24/7.

This is a popular but *unreliable* solution to their problems. It's marginally better than their sub 100Kw fuel cell in a 40 foot container project (that's about as big as a 2MW gas turbine generation package).

Google seems to have several large campuses of staff scattered around, which implies a fairly large human and food waste disposal problem. Put this lot into a an anaerobic digester and they'd get a 24/7 gas supply to either sell back to utilities or for on site generation. While it will no doubt *sounds* a bit smelly (actually it should be pretty odor-less) it would be carbon *neutral* and being industrial scale would benefit from tight Ph and temperature controls along with H2S & CO2 scrubbing.

Not very dramatic. Not much of a photo op. Just a solid reliable power supply.

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not that old chestnut again

wind is unreliable, etc. Wind is tied into a grid, and that grid has it's own variation due to both supply and demand. Figures vary based on the wind profile etc but up to about 40% wind there is no issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Ugliness

I once read a proposal (in New Scientist if I recall) that you should put the windfarm in places that are already butt-ugly. (That's J. Vegas, not J. Lo.)

It involved vertical axis windmills down the central reservation of the motorways, where they'd get a significant boost from passing traffic. I wouldn't want to argue right of way with one in an accident, mind.

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Free Energy

If we could only utilise all the "hot air" being spouted about such inefficient and eco-unfriendly sources of "free" or "renewable" or "cheap" energy we could abandon fossil fuels for ever. Oil companies in the US have been fined tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for causing the death of protected birds. I can find no record of any wind-farm operator being penalised anywhere worldwide. Double standards?

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