Northwest Wind

By , December 10, 2014

Our local marine forecast resolutely predicted north wind at decent intensity to drive our wind generator for several days, but we saw precious little of it. On our little stretch of the coast, the wind has come from the northwest lately. That does us almost no good at all.

Snow on the wind generator: (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Snow on the wind generator: (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Ideally, our wind generator should have a minimum of 400 feet of clear space around it. That much bare, flat ground would provide good, unhampered wind catchment from any quarter. In reality, we couldn’t provide such a space. Neither our geography, land boundaries, or forest allows such extravagance. Instead, the previous owners installed the generator in the best practical spot, topped as many trees around it as they could, and worked with the results. We do likewise.

In practical terms, this means that, while the prevailing southeast and northerly winds power our “homestead,” westerly winds don’t drive our generator. We sit on the east face of the peninsula’s ridge—under it, really. The ridge creates a wind shadow; any wind from that direction becomes too turbulent to drive the wind generator if it reaches it at all. More often, it blows over the ridge, coming down to sea level well off our beach.

We’ve never observed a true west wind here. The closest we see is an apparent northwest wind. When this comes, we have to wait, heartily wishing for a couple of points north. That slight shift would bring us electricity. If it doesn’t come, neither does the charge.

Last week, when the wind developed, we couldn’t catch it very well anyway. A recent snow had capped the stationary generator, then froze. As the breeze developed, it didn’t bring enough strength or warmth to melt or blow the snow away. The finely balanced prop stayed still, held in place by the snow even as the generator kicked around in the freshening breeze.

Eventually, I pulled out a 20-foot 1X1, went up to the Power Point, and gingerly, gently, positioned it near the generator. I then gave the housing a few careful taps, breaking the snow cap and making it fall. The prop caught the breeze, and we got a charge.

Soon after, the prevailing wind shifted northwesterly. Except for a few brief moments, we get virtually no charge. To add insult to injury, the higher winds in the forecast a day or two off inevitably seem to get downgraded as the day approaches.

It’s just one of those things, the luck of the draw as it were. It makes it difficult to answer emails and such, but we’ll do what we can until the wind switches again.

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