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I have been spending the past two days in Portugal to visit a windfarm that my bank financed. I'd like to show you what it all looks like.

All pictures were taken by me, including this one:

(warning, several hundred kb below the fold)

This is what most of the wind farms in the region (and I counted at least 100 turbines in a 30 mile area) look like:

All the wind farms are on ridges, and are thus visible from pretty far away. However, with an object like a wind farm, it is pretty much impossible to have an idea of their scale from any distance. So they are there, clearly visible to all. If you think they destroy the landscape, I suppose there is little that can be said to convince you otherwise.

This is taken from within the windfarm, i.e. on one of the access roads that are used by maintenance vehicles to get access to the turbines.

Now this gets interesting... This is taken from the very top of one of the turbines. You can get access to the nacelle of each wind turbine by climbing within the monopile. Some are equipped with small lifts: otherwise you simply need to climb us a vertical stairwell against the side of the pile. It's very secure, all movements within are done with harnesses and failsafe security systems during the climb. Up there, the nacelle (especially in the models of this manufacturer) are surprisingly large:

(there is a lot of room because this manufacturer does not use a gear box: it uses a rotor/strator technology to generate the power directly, without using a generator to convert the mechanical energy)

There's a trap and a winch to bring equipment up, and a trap to have a look from the top (that's where I took the picture above, and the one below:)

This next picture may give you an idea of the size of the blades: the diameter at the base is 2-3 yards at least, and the length is above 30 meters. It's just as big, and as precisely designed as the wing of a (big) airliner.

Back to the ground, i can confirm to you that these wind turbines are absolutely silent, even when you are standing right under them. There's barely a "whisshhh" as the blades fly across.

Now, that's all for the wind farms. For those that are suspicious of my motives, I am not trying to sell anything here on dKos, but I am happy to show you the concrete results of my work, and I thought I'd also show you a little bit more of the region where these wind farms are located, and other highly visible pieces of spectacular engineering.

The region is pretty spectacular, and is located along the Douro river. This is actually the region where most of the port is produced. It is a mix of high plateaus, narrow valleys and steep hills, with vineyards on terraces almost everywhere.

This is as seen from the top

and this from the bottom:

Now, there are a lot of spectacular bridges. That one was in the city where we stayed; the picture is taken from theexact same location as the above one, looking at the other side of the river:

The next city has some also spectacular bridges, with a twist:

As you can see, bridge technology has made many strides over the years, and is also invading the landscapes. The new freeway linking the region to Porto was build with a number of spectacular bridges and tunnels. Are they ugly? pretty? A necessary evil? An unaldulterated evil? iy seems to be discussed much less thna the impact of windfarms, in any case.

Of course, you can also find some charming old bridges (sorry for the poor quality):

So. What sacrifices our current living standards are worth?

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 04:48 PM PDT.

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