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That headline kind of dates me, doesn't it? Oh well, it is what it is! So let's get back to our regularly scheduled programing and talk about wind power applications. It's kind of a fascinating concept in the field of renewable energy.

Could the Answer Really Be a Blowin' in the Wind?

Steve Maurer, IME
That headline kind of dates me, doesn't it? Oh well, it is what it is!

So let's get back to our regularly scheduled programing and talk about wind power applications. It's kind of a fascinating concept in the field of renewable energy.

Speaking of fields, the wife and I were heading back home to Arkansas from her folks house in Indiana. Her dad suggested we take the northern route across Indiana and then head down Highway 55 in Illinois.

It was a scenic route, passing through a lot of little towns and villages. We even stopped at one that was having a festival in the town square. Love that small town feeling!

Anyway, a lot of the trip was comprised of passing field after field of corn and soybeans. Every couple miles, a farmhouse was sprawled out in a corner of the field. Kind of peaceful, really.

But as we passed by, I started to notice some buildings that weren't tractor sheds, hay barns, or silos. Kind of weird, until I looked past the cornfields and saw the 'other' farms … mile after mile of huge, skyscraping wind turbines.

It seemed like the propellors were barely spinning on some of them. But it wouldn't surprise me if they were all churning out bucket loads of power.

I've seen them before, but honestly didn't know much about them. So I did a little research to see how they worked. Obviously, generators and transformers play a huge part in the power generation.

Being a bit of a tool nerd, I was more interested in the tools and connectors and other trappings of a wind power installation. And I learned a new term in the process: wildlife mitigation.

We've all had issues with some nefarious critters, right? Squirrels that short out power to our houses. Mice that chew through conductors, in and around our appliances. But when it comes to the main sources of power generation, animals can wreak havoc to the grid.

Bushing guards are important trappings to the grid components. Out in the wild there are birds, squirrels, snakes, feral cats and raccoons to contend with. If they contact energized points on a bushing, for example, phase to ground contact points, it will harm the animal and potentially take down the power in that location.

By the way, using bushing guards can save you money, too. If the animal harmed is an endangered species, fines from US Wildlife people could be involved.

I've used a lot of heat shrink tubing over the years. They make a good, tight insulation point and, as they harden, they help secure mechanical connections. And they're resistant to chemicals and other agents.

But they aren't very flexible. When I've used them, that wasn't much of an issue. However, in wind power generations, things move … sometimes a lot.

Cold shrink tubing is used in those wind applications. Instead of slipping them over the connection and applying heat, their application is quite different.

A flexible tube is stretched over a core, which is then slid over the connection. When you remove the core, the tube then snaps into place, seeking its original size. It will flex and stretch to accommodate the current conditions. It remains a tight, weatherproof insulation connection and is resistant to UV rays that can damage other types of insulation in the great outdoors.

Other components are designed specifically for wind applications. Transformer mounts and housings, primary pedestals (sectionalizing cabinets), cable vaults and pads are just a few of them.

But like I say … I'm kind of a tool nerd.

I discovered a battery powered crimp tool that lets you move quickly between crimps without a lot of hassle. One model I looked at could crimp from #4 AWG to 1000 kcmil aluminum and copper connectors and splices. It sported an 11-ton die-less C-head so you don't need to change dies often.

Another model included an onboard GPS system and was Bluetooth enabled to gather data from the jobsite. This helps ensure that every crimp on a project is made.

Wonder how it would look on my peg board?
Photo courtesy of BURNDY
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