I think it was almost two years ago I saw a strange sight while driving on the I-90 spur between I-271 and Route 2. A large semi truck was carrying a very long, oddly shaped load, which looked like a huge white propeller. Since the truck was moving slowly, I passed it, and shortly came upon another truck, heading in the same direction, with the same type of load. As I neared the Route 2 section of the spur, heading west, I came upon a third truck, carrying the same cargo. Needless to say I gave it lots of room as it turned west for I90/Route 2.
I realized that it had to be for some sort of wind turbine, and found out later in the day it was headed for The Great Lakes Science Center. I have to say that those turbine blades look a lot bigger when they are at ground level and you’re driving next to them.
According to the web site for the Great Lakes Science Center:
“The Science Center intends to use the turbine as an accessible and tangible way to demonstrate wind power technology, create a greater public awareness of renewable energy and educate its visitors and the public about the benefits of alternative energy for our region…The turbine is expected to provide an estimated seven percent of the Science Center’s annual electrical needs, but energy cost-saving is not the primary objective according to Science Center President and Executive Director Linda Abraham-Silver. “The project brings our mission of demonstrating the interrelationship between science, the environment and technology to life,” said Abraham-Silver. “We decided to install the turbine on our front lawn for its visibility – for pedestrians visiting North Coast Harbor attractions, motorists on the Shoreway and downtown workers and visitors. We want to raise awareness, engage curiosity and encourage discussion, just as we do with our indoor signature exhibits and programs.”
According to Wind-Works.org, “Cleveland's Great Lakes Science Center installed a 225 kW Vestas V27 wind turbine in 2006 on the city's harbor front between the Cleveland Brown's football stadium and the science museum. The V27 is no longer manufactured and this unit was bought used and then reconditioned. The Science Center has done an excellent job of installing the turbine to maximize its aesthetic appearance and the unit provides a dramatic visual attraction on the city's harbor front skyline.”
The turbine has been up and running for a while, and adds a real point of interest to the area. Recently, during a very windy weather pattern, some were perplexed as to why the turbine wasn’t moving. After all, you'd think that lots of wind would make lots of power, right? High winds, though, are not necessarily good for all types of turbines. Turbines like the one at the Science Center have a braking mechanism, which protects the turbine when winds reach speeds that could cause instability and damage. If you want to see what happens when a turbine fails, check out the video below, of a wind turbine in Denmark failing during a storm.
The Cleveland area could be a great location for more wind turbines. With the almost constant breeze off Lake Erie, and the equally almost constant hot air coming from local politicians, we should have no shortage of air moving. Let’s bring in more turbines!
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