Offshore wind turbines?
In the Spring of 2007 I spent some time in France. In an area similar to Salisbury Plain I found a field of wind turbines. I happened to encounter a team of engineers who were servicing one of the wind turbines. There were two giant articulated cranes that were being used to erect scaffold towers to access the wind propellers. The wind propellers are located at the top of the mast or pillar that is required to mount the wind propellers above the ground. The design is similar to those hand held toys that we all used when we were children. These toys consisted of a stick and and a propeller at the end of the stick. However, with real electrical generators there has to be a dramatic increase in scale to take advantage of the power of the wind. Technical information
The diameter of the "stick" is in fact larger than the average car and the height of the "stick" is in excess of 200 metres (600 feet). The engineers were completing their maintenance operations so although I had an armoury of video and digital camera equipment I was too late to record their activity. I am sure that they would have been delighted for me to have recorded their work, but with my scant knowledge of French I was unable to ask them whether they were merely replacing a light bulb! Or something more serious.
Looking around I saw that there were over twenty wind turbines and at least a quarter of these turbines were not turning. since the rest were turning I presumed that the others were broken and would need service. The accompanying photos give some indication of the scale of the operation. I have no idea how much it would cost to call out two massive mobile cranes but let's suggest £2500 a day. These "windmills" are located on land and I thought how much would it cost to service offshore "windmills"? I leave it to the reader to check that electric pylon riggers get in excess of £1000 a day and that is only the labour for one man. The cost of the gear is another matter.
The people who propose such off shore installations must be barmy! I think that the wind turbines would be quite likely to be mowed down by some ship, before they even needed maintenance! How on Earth do you maintain wind turbines located in the sea anyway? Servicing Oil rigs is OK, at least they cover an extensive area apart from being high above the sea, but a wind turbine! The French wind turbine farm was at least located in an almost featureless landscape but I wouldn't like to see these monsters off our shores.
The photos below show the apparatus that is required to service those wind turbines that are located on land.
The road is 7 metres wide and the turbines are quite a long way off. Gigantic aren't they?
The two mobile cranes that were used to erect a tower to access the wind turbine generator
View of part of the access tower. Note the scale of the tower in relation to the engineer.
The wind tower base with access door
In this bleak landscape the wind turbine adds an element of interest. Note my car in the background!