Wind Turbine Towers and Principles of Their Design

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When you appear on “Jeopardy,” and the little blue screen lights up with “two basic wind turbine tower design requirements,” you either answer, “What are size and elegance?” or Alex gives you that condescending look, patronizing you with his patented “I’m sorry.”

Size and elegance determine the quality of your wind turbine tower’s design. High-quality materials help, but even allegedly “unbreakable” materials will fail if the design does not honor the basic principles.

Questionable designs for wind turbine towers…

Towers come in as many shapes, and sizes as Dunkin’ Doughnuts has sweet treats, and the engineer or factory representative behind each “new and improved” design swears his will max-out power while minimizing cost. The slickest sales guys will show multi-color charts and graphs, dramatically proving how their towers beat the competition by every measure-except you have never heard of the strange measures and bizarre calculus these guys have applied to make their graphs bubble-up in just the right places. The more you study, the more perplexed you become. Meanwhile, you really would like to get yours and running before fossil fuels run-out and something vaguely apocalyptic befalls.

The slicker the sales pitch, the greater the hyperbole, the more enthusiasm in the sales guy’s voice, the more you absolutely must not trust the guy’s claims if they seem unreasonable. As you select yours, keep the basics firmly in mind: You want yours to spread as fast as possible and stretch as tall as possible with just enough of just the right stuff. Guyed wires, for example, do not meet the test of elegance if in a high visibility area though they are a great choice for many.

You do not need an advanced degree in civil engineering to select the right tower for your location and machine. You do, however, need unwavering common sense. Among big wind turbine towers, the principle of “big and elegant” always applies, and common sense prevails. It may not be as important for smaller towers.

Well-designed wind turbine towers…

Civil engineers no less than fashion designers ought strictly to follow the fundamental “principle of elegance,” insisting on simplicity. Conceiving it a little more practice, civil engineers ought to insist on “just enough of just the right stuff.” When a design has more fluff and frou-frou than rigidity and stress tolerance, we ought not to walk it down the runway or erect it in our backyards. Too many moving parts make wind generator towers vulnerable. Lattice towers and welded steel posts with guyed wires will perform well in small earthquakes and high winds, but please beware because Mother Nature’s gyrations can tear out your anchors if not installed properly.

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