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 ;).
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
Brazil (headquartered in Denmark, where they have been building windmills for a looooong time). Vestas began
construction on its first U.S.
in Colorado in 2007. In 2008, a
Vestas R&D Center
opened in Texas. They have facilities all over the world.
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
The Maple Ridge Wind Farm turbines are Vestas model
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 price.
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
According to Vestas, "We install a wind turbine every four hours. Globally."
Do a Google search on
and you will be amazed at how many they sell! This high oil price market is a real boon for
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!