Past a patch of wild clover and a freshly harvested wheat field the horizon is broken by dozens of huge wind generators. This view is from the side of highway 14, north of Interstate 70. Though they look small from this distance, the generators are massive, dwarfing anything nearby. Wandering groups of cattle, beneath one of the machines on a hill to the east, look like marching ants. In other areas the generators seem to have an elegance about them. Here they just seem industrial, out of balance, hostile to their surroundings. Maybe a part of the emotion is because the area around Salina is my home ground. I grew up exploring these hills and country roads. I know how beautiful this drive used to be.
Despite its promise as a way to pull energy out of the ever-present Kansas wind, it’s a controversial technology. Some of the core issues are impact on the environment (mostly an aesthetics problem), and disposition at the end of their life cycle. The benefit is a clean, emission-free, sustainable source of energy, and that’s pretty important.
Wind generators work by using the wind to spin a propeller. The propeller is attached to an electric generator which has some circuitry that allow the power to flow into the common electrical grid, or in some cases, to charge a battery.