Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A beautiful wind

On Tuesday, a new exhibition starts at the Arts Centre in Abel Smith St that sounds rather intriguing. Windance by Emily Farncombe is a multimedia installation that celebrates the beauty of wind turbines by combining images of the Tararua wind farm with video of dancers emulating the turbines' movements.

Anton Oliver, celebrity arts maven and part-time hooker, would definitely not approve, based on the article in this week's Listener (not fully online yet). He and most of the other opponents of Central Otago windfarms seem to have come down on the side of the sentimental rather than the environmental, by emphasising the impact on the "landscape" rather than the ecology of the land itself. As Simon Schama said, "landscapes are culture before they are nature", and the preservation of a mythologically "untouched" landscape for aesthetic and nostalgic reasons is no more "environmental" than using it for a renewable, zero-emission energy source.

Personally, I believe that it's better to have wind farms distributed around the country, close to the demand, to minimise transmission loss. Places like Makara for example. But then the nearby residents always complain about the impact on their pseudo-rural lifestyles (and a "lifestyle" is to a life what "landscape" is to land), insisting that there's nothing wrong with wind farms as long as they're located somewhere remote. Like Central Otago, presumably.

But then, not everyone finds them unattractive. Farnscome, in an interview for the No 8 wire (scroll right down) says:
I discovered the Manawatu wind farm whilst I staying with my friends there, and I was completely overwhelmed by their huge scale and numbers. I love the buzz I get when I stand directly beneath them - they are awesome monsters of energy. I just find wind turbines beautiful, and the sound they make is wonderful too.


It wasn't my original plan to make a point out of the wind farm that is proposed for Wellington. I was initially unaware of project west wind, even before I fell in love with the Manawatu wind farm. However now that I know about it I would like Windance to indicate support for the development of the project. Wind energy is a positive way forward.


At 9:29 pm, July 28, 2006, Blogger David said...

I think you're underestimating the impact of windmills on wilderness areas. These things have large concrete bases and access roads. They're also visual clutter in the same way that power pylons are... Yuk! Given the tiny amount of power actually generated by a windmill, I think the environmental impact is too great and I'd prefer to leave wild areas the way they are.

I'd be more than happy to build the things in urban areas tho. Given Wellington wind, a line of them along the waterfront wouldn't be inappropriate. Altho you'd need a huge number to equal even a single thermal power station.


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