Old windmills make way for solar systems

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 06 August 2010

The pump installer toppled the old windmill in about an hour, first climbing up the wobbly 27-foot tower to stop the broken mill’s whirling blade and then pulling the underground pipe to make way for a new solar-powered electric pump.

Old mills make way for new solar-powered systems

Iconic mechanical windmills of metal and wood have pumped life into American ranches and farms for 150 years, their function withstanding rural electrification in remote locations beyond the reach of power lines. These days, however, an increasing number of Western ranchers are pulling down their old windmills and converting to solar-powered systems.

“They are displacing windmills everyday,” said Scott Blakeley, owner of Pronghorn Pump and Repair in Glenrock, as he traveled to a July installation job on a ranch southwest of Casper. “Primarily because of the mechanical problems that you have. You fix one issue on a windmill today, something else is broke tomorrow. And in August, when you need water the most, the wind blows the least in Wyoming, and in most Western states.”

Ranchers use windmills and other pump systems to open more land for grazing by drawing well water for livestock to drink in areas without surface water. Blakeley, who has also installed solar pump equipment in Utah, Montana and Colorado, said the solar segment of his business grows by about 35 percent per year. Continue reading