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Monday, 13 January 2014

Sailing close to the wind…

Apparently, latest reports from Spain suggest that its electricity greenhouse emissions have dropped by 23.1% as power generation from wind farms and hydroelectric plants have increased.

The Red Eléctrica de Espa­ña (Red = Spanish for ‘network’) says that for the first time ever wind power has contributed the most, supplying 21.1% of electricity demand in Spain, narrowly beating nuclear reactors, which provided 21%.

An increase in wind and solar power capacity meant that by the end of last year, renewables represented 49.1% of total installed power capacity on the Iberian Peninsula. (Portugal successfully generated over 70% of its power from renewables during the first quarter of 2013).

Of course, Spain is a vast country, unlike England, so the positioning of the three-bladed wind turbines doesn’t have to encroach on dwellings; yes, some see them as an eyesore on the horizon, while others admire their sleek lines. Still, if the above figures can be believed, then this technology has a future, at least in Spain.

Wind farm, Tenerife
My wife and I visited a wind farm on Tenerife a few years ago, and those machines are impressive. They feature in my book Blood of the Dragon Trees, too, which inspired this scene:

A few minutes more and they stopped. ‘What’s that?’ Andrew whispered.

                It sounded like a helicopter – or a massive bird, its pinions beating the air. She recalled walking on the south coast of Hampshire. It had been at night and the sound had been quite eerie; for a fleeting second, she’d wondered if it was a UFO, then, thanks to a break in the evening’s clouds, she’d seen the pair of swans flying directly overhead and travelling fast. This was similar, but the sound didn’t diminish.

            ‘Weird,’ she said.

            ‘It’s obviously no threat – let’s keep going,’ he said, tugging her hand.

            The land undulated as they went, the swishing sound seemingly all around them. Her chest aching with exertion, Laura glanced back for the hundredth time and spotted the silhouette of Gomez clambering over a wall. ‘He’s gaining on us!’

            Andrew helped her over another wall. His hand felt damp with sweat.

            Suddenly a shot rang out and the bullet was close, pinging off something metal nearby.

            Andrew led her to the left, away from the brow of the slope they were making for, and abruptly Laura yelped, stumbling over a chunk of granite. Landing on her knees, her palms broke her fall. From this vantage point, she peered up and exclaimed, ‘They’re wind turbines!’ She laughed, now that the mystery was solved.

            Tall and massive, the single posts of metal windmills were like sentinels, outlined against the less impenetrable darkness of the grey-blue sky.

            Another shot bounced noisily off one of the metal posts.

            ‘Let’s go,’ Andrew urged, as he helped her up. ‘Maybe we can lose him!’

            Keeping low, they scurried along the edge of a slope, determinedly sneaking below the brow, in the deeper shadow. Once Gomez reached the wind turbines, he wouldn’t be able to hear their scurrying movements. And if they didn’t offer a silhouette on any wall or brow, he probably wouldn’t spot them either.

            After ten minutes of running and limping in a back-aching crouch, Laura was all in. ‘I can’t go on,’ she said. ‘It isn’t working!’

- Blood of the Dragon Trees, p172
 Purchase e-book from here
Purchase e-book from here


Neil Waring said...

I live in a huge oil and coal producing state, we also have wind turbans and more and more coming. I do not like the looks of the wind towers, coal mines are far out of eye sight, and producing oil wells are small and easily hidden. On the other hand the wind towers can be seen for miles. I know this may be the future, but when I look at the indescribable mountain vistas of Wyoming I don’t like the wind towers in the way. Wish they could be down in the flat country. Might just be my ol’ Cowboy’s thoughts, thinking of times long ago.

Jan Warburton said...

I thought this a hugely effective idea to this scene in the book, Nik. Using the sound of the wind turbines made quite an eerie impact. Loved it!
I actually don't mind wind turbines on the horizon... we have some near us here in East Yorks, and I much prefer them to ugly cooling towers, which we also have in the area. I guess if you live quite close to them though, the noise could be very irritating. Nonetheless, I do agree they're here to stay! Good article, Nik.

Nik said...

Neil, I agree, these monsters can spoil certain vistas, and of course create noise when close; yet I also agree with Jan here that they possess an otherworldly beauty in certain cases, as if Wellsian alien machines were on the march! There are no easy answers. Thanks for your feedback!