Over the summer, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to take a three-week road trip with my parents and two of my siblings through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Having grown up in the Northeast, it was shocking to see states with such different terrain and landscapes. Much of the time, the land and skies seemed endless, mainly due to the lack of trees compared to places like Connecticut (go UConn!)
While it was a little bizarre driving through such flat, open land, it’s because of this terrain that I had one of the most inspiring experiences of my trip. My family and I were driving along I40 through the northern stub of Texas when we came across an amazing scene: massive, white wind turbines lined the interstate, side-by-side for miles.
I gazed at the turbines in complete awe. I’ve always been fascinated by alternative energy sources, and was excited to see machines harnessing wind power up-close and personal. This experience prompted me to research more about wind turbines and farms.
To put the size of these turbines in perspective, the blades can be up to 150 feet long, giving them a rotor diameter the length of a football field! These giant structures are relatively cheap to build, quick to construct, and produce renewable energy through capturing kinetic energy in the wind and turning it into mechanical power. Because harnessing wind energy does not produce CO2, wind turbines also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, there are two types of wind turbines. Horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) are the most common and rotate horizontally, whereas vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) rotate vertically.
I was excited to learn that UConn has explored plans for small HAWTs at three sites on campus. Although right now, it looks like the installation of wind turbines is not cost effective for UConn (due to our highly efficient Co-Gen plant), it’s good to know it could be an option in the future!