On The Futures Channel: Wind Energy Powered by Smart Engineers.
Burbank, CA February 28, 2007: Johnny Goff sits at a bank of computers at the Horizon Wind Energy headquarters monitoring an expanse of wind farms from New York to Costa Rica. As a project engineer, Goff knows the math, science and problem solving skills needed to build wind turbines and keep them operating.
One screen shows the expansive Maple Ridge Wind Farm where Scott Alexander and his team of engineers are constructing the largest wind farm in the state of New York. Goff makes sure Alexander has the supplies and support he needs from headquarters. “When you’re talking about building a wind turbine a lot big pieces and big machinery are involved,” Goff explains. “You want to make sure the roads are strong enough to hold all this big equipment.”
Each turbine soars 260 feet in the air, has a wingspan the length of a football field and can produce enough energy to power 750 homes. To assemble two turbines in a day, the engineers have to make sure they are well prepared. “There are a lot of considerations when you’re talking about building a wind farm. It’s not just sticking a pole in the ground and watching the wind turbine turn,” Goff says.
Emily Hardy is a wind analyst at Horizon Wind Energy headquarters in Houston, Texas. It is her job to determine the best places to put the wind turbines throughout the wind farm site. “In order to find a good wind site it takes several years. We have meteorological towers up for at least a year looking at the patterns: how fast the wind is blowing in the winter, how fast the wind is blowing in the summer, in the day and at night,” Hardy says. “We can estimate what the winds would be for the different areas of the wind farm and how much electricity we could produce.”
Johnny Goff, Scott Alexander and Emily Hardy are all featured in The Futures Channel’s latest movie, “Wind Farming,” which goes behind-the-scenes at the Maple Ridge Wind Farm and Horizon Wind Energy to find out how these two teams, in different parts of the country, work together to create an operational wind farm.
Since 1999, The Futures Channel has taken students behind-the-scenes with engineers, scientists and visionaries who are passionate about what they do and who use math and science to get their jobs done. For the Horizon Wind engineers featured in “Wind Farming,” being involved in the production of an alternative energy is a source of pride.
Goff says, “I enjoy coming to work every day knowing that I’m doing something to help people, knowing I’m doing something to help our community and our environment and I’m learning something every day.”