Monday, June 15, 2009

Hydroelectric Dams, Wind Farms, and Volcanoes - oh my!

Only two of the over one hundred wind turbines

The Laguna Arenal was originaly made because the Costa Rican government made a dam to produce electricity for the country. We drove over the dam on our Sunday drive around the lake. There's also a wind farm near the lake, on one of the highest sets of hills off the lake. It's apparently one of the windiest places in the world! When we were there, almost all of the over 100 turbines were all going strong. We could see some turbines from across the lake, but we decided to drive off the main highway and up into the mountains to check out the turbines.

The bridge that went over the dam

This road was not as bad as the road to Venado - it was a dirt road, not a rocky road. Once we started ascending, we noticed that there were at least four areas where there were turbines, not just the one or two we could see from across the lake. It was so pretty up there! And of course windy :-) I got out of the car and climbed up a dirt cliff (yes, in a dress...) to get a better view for a video and I was almost blown over! Guess that's why they put the turbines there, eh? We could hear them humming while they rotated. When I was on that cliff, I could turn 360 degrees and see wind turbines all around. It was crazy to think about how much electricity was being generated within this few miles - the turbines, the dam - I was surprised they didn't have some way to harness the volcano's power too! Or at least solar panels, but it's a rugged terrain, so it might not be as efficeint as the turbines.

The whole time we were up there, we kept thinking how great this was and how we wish that Michigan could get with it and start manufacturing these turbines - and perhaps using them if possible. At one point, I was also thinking about the four natural elements and how this area has all of them. Fire = volcano, water = lake, wind = turbines, eart = mountains. It seems like this place would be sacred to some people if it existed as such for a longer time. The volcano hasn't been active very long, and the dam and turbines are relatively new compared to how long people have been living in the area!

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