Wednesday, April 27, 2005

No-impact construction?

Here is a picture from the construction of a relatively small industrial wind turbine in Moorhead, Minn., a 750-KW NEG Micon. The tower is 180 feet high, and each blade extends another 83 feet. Newer turbines are at least 1.5 MW, around 330 feet high total, and they are getting bigger (see "Giants of the Amazon"). Nonetheless, this 750-KW model required a foundation hole 44.5 × 44.5 × 10 feet deep filled with 24 tons of steel rebar and 300 cubic yards of concrete. A new road had to be built that was able to carry not only the usual heavy equipment and dumptrucks but especially the 500-ton crane used to assemble the turbine. Whenever anyone says they can just be removed when something better comes along, you can see that rolling your eyeballs and scoffing is the mildest appropriate response. In fact, when a decommissioning agreement is required, the company generally agrees only to remove the top few feet of cement from the platform.

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