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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

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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 years 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 years 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 years 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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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 years 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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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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Marco Agudelo
Marco Agudeloa year ago
An example how would them be, rom minute 2:00 but I liked the total less than four minute clip
https://youtu.be/UoJwZHCvx7k
With an extra comment around minute 1:12 on smart outfitsšŸ˜‰
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa year ago
Marco Agudelo In the cartoon, the rotors are integrated into the blimps themselves, not sure which approach would be technically easier (if feasible at all) to realize, this might remain only a cartoon, but not necessarily.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 years 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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Shape Upgrade, Design, Advertisement

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R
Razvan Aug 30, 2022
The reason I believe people don't find them nice is the shape, narrow at the bottom and wide at the top.
Maybe if it had 2 symetrical turbines on a single pole, one at the middle and the other one on top it would give it a more rigid look.
Or if it had a big turbine at the bottom, a medium one at the middle, and a small one on the top, like a snowman.
Also, it's white like a projector screen, so my first idea would be to mount 3 projectors, one for each blade, at an angle, so they would project some kind of a pattern, maybe hire an artist, or go the opposite way towards advertising on it, I could already see a Coca Cola logo on the blades, and the pole made to look like a can.
I would do them all, build a weird looking snowman wind turbine, with a projector for each blade, display cool patterns to make it appealing enough to visit and from time to time slip in an ad to pay for my other ideas.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia year ago
Two or three turbines on the same pole may increase efficiency. I would suggest attaching a big turbine at the top, a medium one in the middle, and a small one at the bottom, like an inverted snowman. This is because the wind velocity increases with height above the ground. It takes a lot of energy to move the larger turbines. Attaching them at the top, hence, makes sense.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louwa year ago
Using them as advertising space could be very effective if we can find a way to do so efficiently. Simply painting ads on the blades won't work, these turbines are usually quite a distance from the road, too far to be able to read what is written on the blades, and when a person is near it, it would be too large and high up to make out what the ad is. I like the idea of using projectors. Perhaps we can come up with some more ways these open spaces could be used as advertising space which could potentially help fund the input and upkeep costs of the turbines.
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General comments

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MiloÅ” Stanković
MiloÅ” Stankovića year ago
Have it pour colour powders from the back at certain times. Of course, if there is some material that isn't too polluting in nature. It can be green colour because it's "green" energy.
I also have to say that I quite like them already. Especially at night with the lights. 1. 2.
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