Tilting at Windmills

During our recent cross-country trek, we encountered what would have been the bane of Don Quixote’s existence — ginormous windmills! In Miguel de Cervantes novel the word “tilt” comes from fighting; Don Quixote jousted with imaginary enemies (windmills) that he perceived to be giants, thinking the blades were their arms.

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Like a grandmother’s fluffy quilt, wind turbines cover the plains. At one particular spot in Iowa, we got to have an up-close-and-personal look at a Siemens Energy blade and learned that:

  • Each individual, joint-free, seamless blade is 148 feet long, 11.2 feet wide, and weighs 23,098 pounds!
  • Standing over 400 feet tall, each complete wind turbine has three blades, with a rotor diameter of more than 300 feet — nearly the same length as a football field.

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  • One wind turbine can power up to 700 residential homes with environmentally friendly, carbon free electricity.
  • A single wind turbine needs approximately one-half acre of land and uses 40 acres of wind space.
  • Blades sweep an area of 75,000 square feet with each rotation.

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© Laurie Buchanan

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