I don’t know about you, but I love the word turbine. It speaks of great, enormous machines, capable of moving vast quantities of something-or-other, and to me, have an unapproachability that makes them sexy. Kind of like the tall lanky outsider who comes to class in the middle of the quarter and never talks.
I used to work at the UCLA co-gen plant, albeit as an office-manager type person, but I did get to tour around the big co-generation plant and the engineers there would explain to me how things were working. Being the young, starry-eyed, English-major that I was, most of it went in one ear and out the other, as I wondered if my hazel-eyed, alt-rock listening, musician-on-the-side tour guide was going to ask me out.
But I digress. In later years, as I began to immerse myself in all sorts of alternative choices – from moving to Costa Rica to composting to not owning a TV or clothes dryer – my husband also began to immerse himself in alternative fuels. At the same time, we made frequent trips to our nearest biggish town, Santa Cruz (not to be confused with the fabulous, seaside Santa Cruz here in California). The road to said town was bumpy, rough, potholed dirt and gravel, but had some of the most breathtaking views I’ve seen in my lifetime – great, sweeping open spaces of forest and cattle land; soft hills that turned into layered mountain ranges, huge trees whose canopies dripped with ripe mangoes, no buildings or people for as far as your eyes could see, swirling dust and hot humid air.
Amidst these views, close to the road, was one fabulously solitary windmill. I fell in love with this windmill and have wanted one ever since.
I am quite sure that the simple country windmill of my Santa Cruz trips is not what I’d get if I invested in my own personal wind turbine, but this morning I decided it was time to find out.
So what is a wind turbine anyway?