Is there any reason why wind turbines are white?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums SUSTAINABILITY & DESIGN Is there any reason why wind turbines are white?

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    Les Ballard

    Has any study been done to see if we would prefer green, dpm/camo, blue, etc.? In certain areas a nice jonquil may be preferred by locals.

    As with the latinisation of our greek plurals, I must have been off the day the memo came round and now I am stuck with stadiums instead of stadia, podiums instead of podia and white ruddy turbine poles.

    With increasing resistance to wind farms spoiling views, I was thinking of alternatives to blend in more with local skies and colours and even amusing people as with the nodding mule oil pumps in texas done up to look like all sorts of more animate things. I await development with interest but wonder if, also, those who drained the fens with then unaccustomed windmills had the same problem. Is seeking consideration of the point just tilting at windmills anyway?

    Luv n Lite,

    Les Ballard
    the possibly quixotic

    Eric Galvin

    Fascinating question. i had never really thought about it before because i always liked the stark white modernism of the turbines in a way. It seems that the The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires structures over 500 feet to be painted orange or white.
    Some other info i ran into:…
    Turbines are always white to fit in with prevalent weather conditions i.e. cloud. Research into what colour would be best for turbines was conducted in Scandinavia where, of course, there is a lot of cloud cover.
    Researchers are also experimenting with painting the blades to make the blades more visible to birds. For example, instead of the usual white, researchers are painting the blades with black and orange stripes. “We go out and look for any environmental issues or concerns, like migratory birds’ flight paths, water fowl, any threatened or endangered plants or animals, as well as for any cultural artifacts,” says Vito Giarrusso, Florida Power and Light Operations production manager for the Stateline Wind Project. “We have to make sure we aren’t in, around, or imposing on any of those.”

    Les Ballard

    Firstly, thank you so much for the information and interest. Nevertheless, I am dumfounded! I never thought that, while blades or the top parts may be white to blend in with clouds, they are perfectly visible to aircraft but not birds. Surely there is a small surreal universe of deep poo here?

    In Britain the foil tops from the kind of milk bottles we get delivered by the milkman are silver, red and gold striped, gold or red. A collection of these are often pinched to threads criss-crossing seed beds in gardens and on allotments to keep the birds off. Plain silver is favourite but they are all silver inside. It seems to work.

    So now we can have coloured towers and blades (unless striped orange – presumably fluorescent), with foil bits so that birds are frightened away but painted white otherwise near the top, to blend in with the clouds but so that pilots can see them, even though modern technology could manage LED strobes or low level lasers visible even in sunshine. Or can we?

    May the deities help us! Luv n Lite,

    Les Ballard

    Jonathan Fell

    How about painting each blade a different colour and in various shades, then at different speeds it would mix the colours together in different ways. Another one. The Victorians had a somethingascope. it had strange elongated chunks of black on a white background and when spun at the right speed it animated a rabbit running. A whole field of turbines could have bunnies jumping about… lol hey you know what, that’s a fab idea you could do all sorts of pictures or messages, bet you could get Anthony Gormley ( Angel of the North) to come up with some great ones.

    Make windmills chic…


    Joshua K

    Re: It seems that the The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires structures over 500 feet to be painted orange or white.

    Are there really wind turbines more than 500 feet tall?

    Les Ballard

    The photo is taken from the dock at Whitehaven, Cumbria and is of turbines further north.

    Thankyou for your interest, both of you. While a secure area may support hopping bunnies, I fear some wag, in more open areas, will try to shoot them, like at a giant fairground range, with everything from bows and guns to home made and military surplus rockets. Also, the rate of turn may be too slow to achieve optical effects of the kind you suggest, but your idea may be taken up by manufacturers of smaller, faster units as used on yachts. May you get the royalties!

    We are doomed to share our air with the terminally sad, amonget whom I count the idiots who threw glass at a friendly water buffalo, put to graze by a public footpath near Sudbury, Suffolk when someone, who should be disposed of then, apparently, set the bovine’s head on fire. It now grazes elsewhere. (Search engines should find the news reports if you don’t believe me.)

    I really hope my question and the replies filter down to turbine installers and those protesting, currently, against their skyline being spoilt. As for the FAA – and while they are American – there are of course equivalents everywhere. All hail to those who first allow both artistry and technology their heads. For my part, given the opportunity – and in line with such other considerations that I may make (like line-of-sight for cctv cameras and not planting trees that have fruit for use as ammunition to use on windows when landscaping a school) – I will now ensure that proposed wind turbines also have an appropriate design suggestion.

    Luv n Lite

    Les Ballard

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