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What can we do to make onshore wind turbines less of an eyesore?

Image credit: Copperton Wind Farm

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw Apr 03, 2022
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The search for alternative sources of energy has never been as urgent as it is now. One viable alternative is the use of wind farms to generate electricity, however, one of the concerns over harvesting energy through wind turbines is that some feel that wind farms will destroy the aesthetic of the landscapes they fill.
Though this might appear to be a trivial matter to some, the fact is that it does have an impact on the decisions we make regarding wind-generated power.
So, what can we do to make wind turbines less of an eyesore?
Considerations
  • Any change must not negatively impact the performance of the wind turbine.
  • Any change may not add to the scale of the environmental impact that wind-turbines have, if anything, it should reduce it.
One might argue that aesthetics should not factor into decisions made about renewable energy, or even that there is a certain beauty to a field full of turbines in itself, but that does not change the fact that because these types of projects ultimately become political decisions, it is neccessary to remove as many concerns as possible in order for the projects to be able to be realized. So figuring out how to beautify wind turbines is actually an important challenge.

[1]https://news.sky.com/story/grant-shapps-says-he-does-not-support-a-vast-increase-in-onshore-wind-farms-ahead-of-the-energy-security-strategy-reveal-next-week-12581224

[2]https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-60952056

3
Creative contributions

Transparent wind turbines

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Apr 03, 2022
What if we made wind turbines from transparent materials such as plexiglass?
We saw many modern buildings with glass facades in the city. I suggest creating wind turbines from transparent materials (glass, plexiglass). The core structure would be made of metal, while all the other materials would be transparent. That way, wind turbines could be less visible in the environment.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw2 months ago
Do you mean only the blades would be transparent? I think it's a good idea, I also considered how we can make them completely invisible. The problem I have with making only the blades transparent is that it might be an environmental concern as flying animals might be more likely to be injured. But also, considering the aesthetic only, I feel like a windmill might be more attractive than a giant pillar, which is all we would see if the blades were made transparent.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola2 months ago
Spook Louw Well, I thought about having both the blades and the body covered with glass. I agree it could be a problem for the birds, but some shiny parts could be incorporated to scare the birds (we use old CDs on our balconies to scare away the pigeons).
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 months ago
J. Nikola, Spook Louw Technically, the whole windmill could be made transparent except for the parts that comprise the main mechanism - the "insides" of the windmill. It could look similar to those transparent computer cases, except with fewer chips and more mechanical parts:
I think it's a bigger issue to make the blades transparent than the body of the pillar, this is because the blades should be designed to minimize air resistance and maximize the electricity-generating power (spinning frequency, etc.). Making the blades from plexiglass and similar, transparent materials, would, most likely, reduce the physical properties required for effective power harvesting.
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Raising the rotor part high above

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Povilas S
Povilas S Apr 16, 2022
Wind speed increases with altitude. Also, the main element spoiling the view is, arguably, the propellers. If the pillars were thin enough, without the propeller part they would be hardly noticeable from afar.
It's perhaps even possible to suspend the propellers in the air with the help of helium balloons (or similar means) and thick wires grounding them below. The entire mechanism required for generating power could be made floating in the air at a high enough altitude (above the clouds or so) and the power transmitted downwards through wires protected by a thick insulation shield. The same cable would both hold the mechanism suspended in the air and transmit the power downwards.
There could also be a layer of solar panel plates above the windmills to generate even more power, all the system would be suspended in the air by the raising force of massive blimps floating above. If the vertical distance between solar panels and the blimps were big enough, they shouldn't cast a shadow on the panels, unless the sun were in zenith.
Disadvantages: apart from technical difficulties to realize this, high-raised windmills could pose danger to the aircraft.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
Would the blimps or balloons stay in place? The wind might sway them and push them into the mainland. They would require additional energy to stay in place. The windmills anchor to the ground to stand erect and face the wind, requiring no additional energy.
Also, the higher is the rotor located, the thicker will be the pillar to prevent it from falling.
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa month ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Good point. I'm thinking could this be solved by tying the rotor part to more wires (securing its sides like this):
I think this should make the whole system more stable. Also, the lifting power of the blimp should be very strong to keep the upper wire tense at all times. Big balloons are also less sensitive to the tossing power of the wind.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
Povilas S That's an idea. Where would the propellers/ blades go?
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Camouflage

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw Apr 04, 2022
In Namibia, they have cellphone towers disguised as palm trees. something similar could be done with wind turbines, as long as it does not affect the mechanics and efficiency of the turbine.
Even if only the main structure is camouflaged, and the blades remain unchanged as to not affect them, it would look much more like a field of large trees than it does at the moment.

[1]KMB Design Group

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Povilas S
Povilas S2 months ago
I personally would much prefer the view of white windmills dispersed along the field rather than them camouflaged in plastic or so as artificial trees. But, as you mentioned initially, this is a matter of taste, I have no problem with the aesthetics of windmills in the first place, I think they even make the landscape richer:)
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