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Q&A Quiz

Q: Why are there so many wind farms in the San Gorgonio Pass?

A: The San Gorgonio Pass is the windiest place in the country.  Because the Coachella Valley is one of the hottest places in the country much of the year, hot air rises up above cold air, then gets cold again.  This cycle of hot air rising, cooling off, and then sinking again is what causes wind and tornadoes and hurricanes on Earth, and on other planets. Sometimes when warmer air bumps into colder air it causes thunderstorms, too.

BONUS: Here is a fun experiment you can do at home to play with hot and cold air.  Make your own Hot Air Balloon.

a windmill on top of a sandy beach

Q: What blades work best in a wind turbine?   Upwind or downwind blades facing the wind?

A:  Upwind blades using a horizontal axis produce more energy.

BONUS:  There are two basic types of wind turbines: those with a horizontal axis, and those with a vertical axis.

The majority of wind turbines have a horizontal axis: a propeller-style design with blades that rotate around a horizontal axis. Horizontal axis turbines are either upwind (the wind hits the blades before the tower) or downwind (the wind hits the tower before the blades).

While there are several manufacturers of vertical axis wind turbines, they have not penetrated the utility scale market (100 kW capacity and larger) to the same degree as horizontal access turbines.

a windmill next to a cow

Q:  What company made the first successful wind turbine?  

A:  General Electric (installed in 2010).

BONUS:  These majestic machines generate Max 1.5 megawatts or 1500 kilowatts. The height is 215 Ft above the hub.  The blades 125 feet or 38 meters and each weigh approximately 13,000 lbs.  Slower speeds provide more output.

Contrary to what you hear in the news about noisy wind turbines, this is simply not true.  The slower speeds reduce sound levels of the machines.  The only noise you will hear is a whoosh in the air.

Bigger blades generate more power

Q:   How many homes do the wind turbines provide energy?

A:    500 to 700 average homes.  Each wind turbine outputs 34,500 volts.

BONUS:  Watt is the unit of power whereas kilowatt-hour (kwh) is the unit of energy.  1000 watts = 1 kilowatt; 1 kilowatt = 1 megawatt

View of Wind Farms from Vista Coachella Valley

Q:  Does solar energy cost more than wind energy?

A:  Yes.  The cost of solar is slightly more than wind energy, but both are considered the cheapest renewable energy.

BONUS:  The benefits of wind-solar hybrids start with a simple idea: Solar power is strongest when the sun is brightest, often in the middle of the day. Wind power is stronger at night in many areas of the U.S. By combining the two, a hybrid project has the potential to produce power around the clock.

Solar Panels & Wind Turbines combined can produce energy 24/7

Q.  Why are some of the wind turbines turning and some not?

A:  This is really a 3 part answer:  Answer either one of these you are CORRECT!

1) Some of the windmills are expired and need to be removed. Typically, the life span is 20 to 25 years.

2) Modern turbines need at least 7 to 10 miles a hour to turn.

3) Turbines cannot handle too much wind – usually about 55 to 60 miles per hour…if the wind is higher, it will auto shut off.

Congratulations! You are a wind energy hack!

a windmill on top of a grass covered field