May 26, 2009

"Green but ugly"

FROM-Detroit Free Press

Wind turbines are green, but their design blows

In the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland, air travelers 20,000 feet up can spot the gangly parade of wind turbines in the water.

On a rural road in southwestern Ontario, a spring vista of pale green is obliterated by six giant wind turbines in the cornfields.

I’m not against wind power.

But why can’t they make wind turbines more visually pleasing? Why do they have to be so ugly?

Speaking for travelers, I think whoever designed these turbines littering the planet should be ashamed.

And slapped for lousy design.

In sight, out of place

The problem we have here is “aesthetic dissonance” — the hideous incompatibility of gigantic wind turbines with the natural world.

Yes, they produce good, kindly wind power. But at what cost? Believe me, these are not the kind of windmills that people will ever, ever pay money to see.

Old Dutch windmills have a quiet grace to go with their utility. Old-fashioned American windmills, with their round circle of blades and wood frames, have a sculptural quality that blends with the tough landscape — a case of a man-made structure enhancing nature.

Wind turbines have all the personality of a radiator fan.

They are totally out of place, unless they are out of sight. (There also are noise and vibration issues for people who live near them.) So I’m thinking one contribution Michigan could make to the world is to figure out how to make them more invisible, or at least more attractive. Silver isn’t natural. Gray isn’t good. Isn’t there some other color?

Green but ugly

Already, two wind turbines have been installed on the Galapagos Islands. A company is seeking approval to put 130 of them in scenic Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod. (“Honey, look! Sunrise over the turbines!”) Travelers can already spot them from China to Bahrain. The tallest ones are more than 400 feet high with flashing red lights on top.

There are now more than 30,000 wind turbines in the United States, according to the American Wind Energy Association. About 1,500 have been installed this year.
So I know I’m already too late.

These wind turbines are part of the inexorable green technology wave.

But somebody had better figure out how to turn these ugly things into something beautiful.

Otherwise, future travelers will blame us for being as shortsighted with our landscape as yesterday’s coal strippers were with theirs.


1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree they are ugly but you are mistaken when you say they are green...they are not. Since they are so erratic, all the other sources of energy must be ramped up and down to accomodate. In this end there is only a miniscule amount of CO2 saved. Since it ALWAYS needs a safety net, traditional power sources must still be built and maintained. No coal plant in the world has ever been shut down because of displacement of wind. This is the biggest smoke and mirror game going! It's all about big, easy money almost totally subsidized by you the taxpayer. No wonder people are scrambling to get in the game.