Monday, February 11, 2013

How Did Wind Turbines Do During the Blizzard?

Turkey Hill VMany of the wind turbines in Massachusetts automatically shut down over the weekend due to the blizzard, annoying but necessary considering ice buildup can hurt a turbine's performance just as much as it would an airplane's. (Notable exception: Ipswich Wind, which had its best two-day stretch of catching clean energy in at least a month.)

One of the more entertaining myths pushed by anti-wind activists is that after an ice storm wind turbines will start aiming chunks of ice at distant homes like a carbon-fiber eye of Sauron. Studies have shown that if a turbine continues to operate even during an ice storm, ice may fall up to 90 meters away. But that's about 4 times closer than any home should be from a wind turbine, so consider yourself safe. Just to be sure, take this advice from The Green Miles: Do not hang out directly under a 130-meter wind turbine during an ice storm.

As is often the case with wind turbines, people worry more about the new weird-looking thing than they do about the existing and actually dangerous thing. Just as people worry about made-up health impacts of wind power while overlooking the very real and very deadly impacts of our dependence on coal-fired power, they worry more about ice chunks from wind turbines that I can't find any evidence have ever hurt anyone when ice chunks from ordinary buildings will murder you dead.
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