January 19, 2008

Wind Cities: When They Thought Big About Alternative Energy


As the 1930s drew to a close with global depressions, wars and rumors of war, there were a few people in charge of the future, the utopian future. And those people saw that maybe, just maybe, coal and oil might play themselves out and other sources of energy might have to be found. And in England it would seem that some creative editors and artists at Modern Wonder magazine looked up into the sky and decided it might be wise to catch the wind. They were publishing a magazine for boys and they didn't have to be right, they just had to be inspiring. It was an era in which publications for kids routinely tried to inspire them.

And they weren't small minded about it as these pictures will attest. They thought big... very BIG. And believed in the far future. Which was a good thing because, in September of 1938, much as it is now at the beginning of 2008, the immediate future was looking grim. Indeed, when this issue was published in September of 1938, War in Europe was only one year away.

Legos would have to wait until after the war, but most boys had Erector or Meccano Sets, so that became means by which these behemoths of the breeze would be built.

Here's the less than modest wind-farm plan of 1938:


And here it is on the cover with a visual reference to the city it powers seen at the bottom.


I'm not sure the sound and the feeling of personal safety from living under such a structure would lend itself to relaxation, but at least electricity would be fairly cheap. Just how big would these monoliths be? I don't know. Perhaps one of my readers can come up with an estimate.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 19, 2008 2:08 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Well, it says right on the drawing that the wind always blows at 1000 feet, so perhaps the bottom fans are at 1000' and the thing goes up from there?

Posted by: Hunt Johnsen at January 20, 2008 7:09 AM

Probably a half mile high. They thought big in everything.
An interesting website is "Tales of Future Past".


Posted by: Mikey NTH at January 20, 2008 7:58 AM

That thing looks like at least a quarter-mile across at the base, and it appears to be almost three times as tall, so we're talking three thousand, maybe four thousand feet.

Meanwhile, at the actual wind farm closest to me, the turbines are a mere 217 feet tall.

Posted by: CGHill at January 20, 2008 11:14 AM

Heh! Bird blenders! Birds for some reason are drawn to wind farms and seem to suffer from the collisions with big, heavy blades. The raptors them come in for the food and get blended also.

It would take a lot of wind farms to even make a small dent in the demand for electricity. It does not mean we should not try but it will take ALL of the new technologies in concert to even come close to helping.

Nuclear is now VERY efficient. Much more so than when it started out. As are solar cells. BUT, it takes a lot of them. ETOH is VERY wasteful - it takes 80% of the energy you get out of it to make it. Not very efficient. Plus the soil gets depleted pretty quickly unless crops are properly rotated. Not to mention the amount of water it takes - water to grow the plants, brew the mash, cool the boiled off vapor.

Posted by: Robohobo at January 20, 2008 9:16 PM

Here's something on it.


Posted by: Mikey NTH at January 21, 2008 5:49 PM