The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Monday, August 01, 2005

Wind Powered Liberty

I've been reading about the potential for wind turbines to replace the need to rely completely on coal and gas fired electrical power plants for our electrical system. There are great strides being made, such that a modern wind turbine can generate enough electricity at peak times (usually at night) to power hundreds of homes. However, I'm starting to get really irritated at all the people complaining how tall they are and how they block their view of the natural landscape. The most irritating argument that get used is that the windmills are "taller than the Statue of Liberty". As if by couching the comparison to something as patriotic and wholesome as the Statue of Liberty, they can seem like they are defend their right to not have to live with windmills. How about "as tall as a smokestack" or "as tall as a pile of nuclear waste"? I could go on and on...

But this gave me another idea. What if we could power the Statue of Liberty with just Wind and Solar power? A Statue of Liberty that is energy independent and produces no harmful emissions into the atmosphere. This would be the best type of positive symbolism to assert America's path to energy independence.

So is this feasible? I think so, but I need a little help from some experts if someone is willing to help me out. Here's what I found on the amount of electricity that the Statue consumes:

  • (40) 250 watt Metal Halide lamps on the statue's body,
  • (16) 250 watt tungsten halogen incandescent lamps under the torch railing,
  • (42) 6 volt spotlights light the torch from below,
  • (4) 1000 watt MH floodlights mounted in the Statue's head.
So roughly 18,000 watts an hour or 18 Kilowatts/hour just for the lighting. This should not be hard to accomplish between a small wind turbine and perhaps a few solar panels. It could be an additional exhibit on the grounds of Liberty Island or possibly Liberty State Park. I bet the equipment could even be donated by some of the bigger players like GE, Kyocera or the energy (oil) companies trying to get into these areas. It would be the best PR money could ever buy for any company in the US.

So who's with me? Let's start spreading the word and writing to some folks and get this idea circulated and see what happens.

Updated: I tried emailing the Statue of Liberty Foundation, but my email bounced back. Strange. As a way of stating your opinion, please go to the National Park Service website for the SOL. . Another person who seems to really care about the Statue of Liberty is Anthony Weiner (running for Mayor) -

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At 9:18 PM, Blogger Ianqui said...

Heh. This really is a good idea. Problem is that someone would have to buy a wind turbine, and I don't see the city doing that. But how about a philanthopic organization? Is there some environmental charity that could help out?

At 9:26 PM, Blogger peakguy said...

They were able raise millions for security to "re-open" it after September 11th. American Express is the big corporation that raises money for the Statue of Liberty. Ideally someone could do a cost/benefit that makes sense for buying one or alternatively GE could use a little of its new found "ecomagination" and donate a Turbine.

At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good idea! Just watch the units. We use energy, measured in Joules (J). The power the lights are using is energy per unit time, Watts (W = J/s), or more usually in the electrical industry power x time = energy measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Good luck with the proposal!

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberate liberty. Turn off the lights.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger KM said...

More on units. The lights don't use 18 KW/hour. They use 18 KW-hours per hour. Or you can just say the load is 18 KW.

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, here goes. I'm better at solar. Insolation for NY is about 4 kWh per square metre per day. Say the lights are on 12 hours a day on average (dusk to dawn) ... that's 216 kWh. At 100% efficiency that's 54 square metres of sunlight. Lets assume a total efficiency of 10% including seasonal storage (less sun, more lights in winter). That's 540 square metres of solar panel. Say $500 per square metre gives an installation cost of $270,000, plus the cost of a guy to squeegee the front surfaces every day to keep them clean. Expensive? Or free electricity and PR for 25 years, assuming you can find somewhere to put them.

Magic 'insolation' number at:

At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, maybe not every day. But you can't expect them to last 25 years if you don't keep them clean, especially in city air.

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where exactly is the relation to oil?
Very few oil is used in generation of electricity. Substituting oil in transportation is expensive enough. Leave electricity generation alone.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger peakguy said...

The relationship is that when oil starts to fall off and increase in price, people will want to power their cars with electricity. Unfortunately natural gas is peaking soon and coal is very dirty.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not use the power of the river flowing around the island. I heard there is and experimental turbine in the East River that could be duplicated in the Hudson.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gotta agree with tstreet. As long as we are building a fence on one border, why are Liberty's lights still on?
Support our troops' future: turn off the lights.
The only thing Liberty's lights are welcoming to our country is Product, not people. If you don't have Product to offer cheaper than we can force our unions to make it (or labor that is cheaper than what we have), then we don't want you coming here.
Put a whip in Liberty's hand, and a bible on her arm.

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I like to go to Woodland Park Zoo to get some exercise. I also like to take my camera and get some pictures. After doing this a few years, I decided to start volunteering my time to help at the zoo. The zoo relies heavily on volunteers. In exchange for your time, you get to enter for free any time it's open. You also get some free passes each year and you can always bring family and friends for half price.

By working at the zoo, I got to learn the names of most of the animals, making me want to help protect them even more. Woodland Park Zoo's focus is on conservation and education, so you'll see many volunteers (docents) around the zoo talking about the various animals.

My favorites are the gorillas. One troop is led by Pete and Nina, both wild born and 40 years old. Nina reminds me of a grandmother from the south...resting her chin on her "cane" with her tongue hanging out. Pete likes to gross people out by eating his feces, but it's a quite natural action in the wild.

The orangutans are usually my next visit. I adore Towan and Melati. Towan likes to paint and some of his work has been sound on eBay. Melati is missing some fingers from an accident and is usually the most visible of the orangutans.

There was a fuss a few years ago about the Masai that worked at the zoo. People (who hadn't bothered to talk to them) made a ruckus and claimed it was like putting them on display with the animals. I got to talk to the Masai many times and they never felt this way. They wore uniforms just like other zoo employees. They gave very education talks about their country and culture. The stress of the negative publicity was enough to make them not come back the next year (with the exception of Wakuto (not sure of spelling), who returns every year. It's too bad unhappy people feel the need to ruin things for everyone because the zoo was considering having a similar interpretation set-up in the "Thai village" near the elephants.

Features worth noting:
1. Opening in 2009 is the new penguin pool.
2. A zoomasium for kids to blow off some steam.
3. A carousel.
4. Giraffe feeding (their long, black tongues are very dexterous).
5. Willawong station, where you can feed the various birds.

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