July 10, 2009 —
For me, peering over a field at a windmill whirling in the breeze recalls the “peaceful, easy feeling” from the lyrics of that popular Eagles’ song.
Of course, nowadays the picturesque wooden windmill of old is just that as the possibility of harnessing the wind to alleviate our energy woes takes on a high-tech feel. In fact, says Business Librarian Mike DePue, who has researched the topic from his office at the Library Center, the “winds of change are blowing even in Missouri.”
He says it’s “not a futuristic pipe dream. It’s been happening for about a year now, making Rock Port in extreme northwest Missouri, the first U.S. community to be fully powered by the wind.”
But before we Missourians get too excited about using the wind to power our homes, DePue cautions: “Wind speed maps make it clear that significant portions of the state have little potential for wind energy production, given today’s technology. Barry and Lawrence are among only 34 or 30% of Missouri’s 115 counties that have real present potential.”
He says that the northwest has the greatest potential, from St. Joseph north to the Iowa border, but “even there, existing wind farms have produced power 36% to 38% of the time and not only are wind speeds sometimes too low, but they also can be too high for safe operation.”
According to DePue, new technologies, such as braking control on a wind turbine’s rotor, may help make wind power generation more feasible. “Braking controls would speed up and slow down as needed to store energy as mechanical rather than electrical. When the wind’s electrical generation falls below average, the kinetic or mechanical energy would be released to generate electricity.”
Another innovation called STAR for Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor is a gentle curved tip specifically designed for Midtwestern wind conditions.
To find out more about this topic, go to the Springfield-Greene County Library’s business blog at thelibrary.org, or pick up a copy of the latest “Minding Your Business at the Library” newsletter at any of the ten branches.
Library Resources on Wind Power
Jeanne C. Duffey, community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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