Wind Farm from Aloft
September 16, 2009
Though deserts are deficient in water they abound with other resources such as sunlight and wind. The picture above was taken from a commercial jet heading from Santa Ana, California to Dallas, Texas on April 16, 2009. This wind farm appears to have two generations of turbines: long, tight rows of shorter ones, and a newer generation of tall ones noticeable by the longer tower shadows. Access roads create a very organic pattern, a counterpoint to the desert's natural drainage and erosional features seen at the lower right.
Taller wind towers may be more commonplace in the coming years. Not only is there less friction aloft but variation of wind velocity, also known as wind shear, is more pronounced nearer the surface. According to a recent report, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory attributes nearly half of the expected 50% improvement in wind turbine production to towers twice the height of those utilized in the late 1980s.