This Wind Farm, located near the town of Darling, South Africa, is a national demonstration project. It’s the first commercial Wind Farm in South Africa. With just four turbines, it’s a little project with BIG potential!
Remember the pinwheel you had when you were a little kid? (Look under your bed. It’s probably still there.) Remember how you blew air at it, so the blades would turn? Well, imagine a pinwheel that’s as tall as a 17-story building! That gives you an idea of the size of a wind turbine. The turbine works the same way as your pinwheel. The wind blows past the angled blades, turning them around and around.
Each wind turbine is hooked up to wires. When the blades go around, they turn mechanical energy into electrical energy, creating electricity! The electricity travels through the wire to the wires owned by the electric company. It can then be sent to houses, or businesses, or anyplace electricity is needed. The electricity generated from these four turbines can provide enough electricity to meet the needs of 700 households.
Regular power plants usually burn coal to create electricity. That’s bad news for the environment, because burning coal creates air pollution. Air pollution has carbon dioxide and other poisonous chemicals in it that are harmful to animals and people. The more electricity people use, the more power plants pollute our air.
Wind Farms don’t burn coal. They just use the wind to power their blades, so the turbines don’t create any air pollution. That’s why we call them “Clean Energy” or “Alternative Energy”. Makes sense, doesn’t it?!
Some people think turbines are very noisy. They do create a quiet hum, but the noise in my video below is the sound of the wind blowing through my camera’s microphone. It’s louder than the turbine! These turbines are located in a farmer’s field. You can see the turbines don’t scare the cows.
The turbines are built in a place where there’s usually lots of wind. But no matter the wind speed (as long as there’s a bit of wind), the blades turn at 32 revolutions per minute. There are 100 sensors on each turbine that keep taking measurements. The information about wind speed, wind direction, temperature, vibration, etc., are sent to computers so the turbine can be watched from anywhere in the world.
If it gets very windy, the turbine blades still turn at 32 revolutions per minute, even if the turbine has to put its brakes on. If the blades turned too quickly, they would generate too much electricity at once, and would damage the wires.
People are concerned about air pollution and climate change. Wind Farms are a cleaner way to create energy than burning coal, oil, or wood. People are also using solar panels that use the sun’s energy, hydro-electric power that uses running water, and other ways to create electricity. It’s good to know that Dirk Mostert and the others working at Darling Wind Farm have found a way to meet people’s needs while also helping the environment, don’t you think?