18 Amazing Wind Farm Photos

What's not to love?

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

I'm an unabashed fan of wind turbines. I took a tour of a wind farm a few years ago and was blown away by the beauty of the towering, majestic monoliths spread out over the Wyoming hills. The slowly turning blades reminded me with every revolution that a little bit less coal would be burned to power our way of life. I pored through the photo archives of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to find 20 of the most stunning photos of wind turbines.

Here, the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center consists of 44 228-foot turbines that generate enough clean electricity annually to power 20,000 homes in the Backbone Mountains of West Virginia. I love this photo because it’s a view that’s not seen very often. (Text: Shea Gunther)

Turbines at sunset

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

It’s hard to go wrong with turbines at sunset, and I love how the turbines just keep going off the silhouetted horizon. These turbines rise 213 feet off ground in the Wisconsin farmland between the small villages of Cobb and Montford. They came online in June 2001 and produce enough energy to power 9,000 homes.

Blue skies ahead

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You don’t see many fields of wildflowers co-existing side by side with coal-fired power plants. I love how the stark white turbine pops off the blue sky background. The Big Horn Wind Farm in Klickitat County in Washington produces electricity for around 70,000 homes.

For the birds

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

This photo is great because the wind turbine fades into the background as the little bluebird takes the attention front and center. Old-school wind turbines like those found in Altamont Pass, Calif., can be a bird's worst nightmare. Set low to the ground with fast-moving blades, they aren’t friendly to any feathered friend unlucky enough to find itself in its whirling blades. Modern turbine blades are hundreds of feet off the ground and rotate much slower, cutting the number of avian fatalities sharply over those made and installed decades ago.

Enjoy the quiet

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Wind turbines are tall. The most amazing thing about standing underneath a giant turbine is how quiet it is. You could easily check your voicemail while leaning on a tower — it’s that whisper soft. The Big Horn Wind Farm has 200 1.5 megawatt GE turbines and is noted for its efficient use of land — 98 percent of the land it is sited in is available for use by farmers and hunters.

A hint of movement

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Wind turbines lend themselves to blurred motion photography. I like this image because it adds just a hint of movement, a feeling supported by the seeming windy lean of the plants at the base of the road.

Maple Ridge Wind Farm

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Maple Ridge Wind Farm is the largest farm in New York state, specifically in Lewis County. Maple Ridge has 195 Vestas turbines cranking out 231 megawatts, enough to power around 68,000 homes each year. The farm came online in January 2006.

This is another great wind turbine at sunset shot. I like how the sun is just barely peeking over the dark horizon.

Supporting orphans in India

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The G. McNeilus Wind Farm in Adams, Minn., is named for Garwin McNeilus, an industrial tycoon who supports renewable energy. The profits from one of the farm's nine turbines is donated by the McNeilus family to an orphanage for blind children in India.

This is another great example of turbines peacefully coexisting with the land they are sited on. A small dirt access road and an even smaller concrete base pad are all that’s needed for a farm, in sharp contrast with the hundreds of acres needed to build a coal burning facility.

Like a painting

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Gorgeous! I love the slight blade movement and the contrasting wash of pink clouds on the blue sky. The Ponnequin Wind Farm was the first one built in Colorado with 31 turbines powering about 10,000 homes.

In the clouds

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The Grand Ridge Wind Energy Center in Lasalle County in Illinois has 66 1.5-megawatt turbines rising up over 6,000 acres of cornfields. This turbine provides energy for about 1,500 Illinois homes. Farmers love wind turbines — or should I say they love the lease payments that come with them. On a 6,000-acre site, the Grand Ridge Wind Energy Center uses a total of 4 acres for roads and turbines.

Peaceful

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The NaturEner Glacier Wind Farm in Montana was state's first foray into wind and makes enough energy for about 200,000 homes.

Stop right there

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The stop-motion of the blades is awesome: Each one of those blurred blades represents a little bit of clean energy hitting the power grid. The Dillon Wind Power Project powers around 45,000 homes in Palm Springs and Riverside County in California.

A kiss goodnight

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

I love this photo for the spread of turbines and the sun that seems to be kissing them goodnight. The Klondike III wind project in Wasco, Ore., sits next to its predecessors the Klondike I and Klondike II farms. It has enough capacity to power around 55,000 homes.

Coexisting

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

I love this photo of the deer because it shows just how well wildlife adapts to the turbines. Farmers have reported seeing animals using the turbine shadows to escape the hot sun, distressed not a bit by the spinning blades overhead. The Spanish Fork Wind farm is located in Utah and is a smaller farm, providing energy to about 6,000 homes.

In sync

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

I like the colors in this photo and the fact that all three turbines are seemingly synced up with one another. It’s asymmetrically balanced. The Happy Jack Wind Power Project located outside Cheyenne, Wyo., wins the prestigious Shea’s Favorite Wind Farm Name award. The Happy Jack farm is another smaller farm, providing energy for around 8,500 homes with its 14 turbines.

Working night and day

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

This turbine at the Happy Jack Windpower Project would be getting ready for bed if turbines slept. Though wind speeds aren’t statistically as fast as they are during the day, the wind still blows at night, keeping the turbines working around the clock.

Winter whites

National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

I love the distant winter sun in this photo and the frost-covered brush. The turbines seem to be a natural part of the landscape, rising up above the brush line with their cool winter colors. This is the NedPower Mount Storm Wind Project in Gamesa, W.Va. The farm came online in 2008 and consists of 132 turbines spread out over 12 miles of mountain ridges. It provides enough energy for about 66,000 homes.