Monday, November 10, 2014

Windless turbines

click photo to enlarge
As the rise and transformation of personal computing in recent decades demonstrates, specific technologies come and go. What I find interesting in this regard is how a continent such as Africa largely missed the desktop computer and laptop and went straight to the computer that is the smartphone. Clearly, the step-by-step evolution in computer technology that the industrialised nations have experienced is not the only way forward: it's possible to miss out a stage or two.

Here's an example of technology arising and then vanishing. A couple of centuries ago the area that is now Greater London was home to about three hundred windmills. There were several thousand elsewhere across the country. These were not the generators of electricity seen in today's photograph, but machine/buildings for milling grain and other products. Today there is but a handful of working mills, none of them commercial. With that in mind I wonder how long wind turbines will be generating a portion of our electricity requirement. I've read that the life-span of a turbine is about twenty five years on land and I imagine it must be less than that at sea. But, quite a bit of energy infrastructure is used beyond its sell-by date so it's likely they'll be around for a little longer than that. However, the fact is that it might be a new technology - one currently in development, or one yet to be imagined - that makes wind turbines redundant. When that day comes the wind "farms" that have sprung up on land and sea will be no more.

I have mixed views about wind turbines. I wish our politicians and energy companies would favour green power generation that is less visually intrusive, or even - heretical thought! - work seriously at reducing consumption. Yet, if they did, I'd lose a photographic subject that is undoubtedly interesting. I've taken quite a few shots of these tall structures at various Lincolnshire locations, including those offshore at Skegness. I took several more on a recent visit to that seaside resort. We arrived at the coast when the wind was barely perceptible, the sea was still, a light mist was clearing, and the sun was illuminating the stationary turbines. This particular image presents the white monsters looking benign and beautiful.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 112mm (168mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On