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Turning Wind Energy into a Waltz

It might seem inevitable now that Fort Madison, Iowa, would become a production site for a substantial supply of wind turbine blades. Wind, after all, has always been in the air in that state for as long as Americans can remember.

And with that unique characteristic, Iowa has suddenly become known for farming more than just corn. In fact, Iowa leads the nation in the percentage of electricity generated by wind energy. Wind turbines supply more than a quarter of the state’s energy.

In the seven years since Siemens opened its local blade plant, many of the residents of Fort Madison and surrounding towns have been building the future—and not just the future of their hometowns. In December 2013, Des Moines–based MidAmerican Energy awarded Siemens the world’s largest onshore wind contract to date—to build 448 wind turbines.

Using these facts, figures and the forward progress of wind energy here in the United States, we identified yet another kind of inspiration from wind farms. The immense wind turbine blades, spanning more than 350 feet in diameter, rotated musically in sweeping rhythm. It made us wonder…. Could the wind make music?

To answer this question, we invited Will Bates, a British-born, Brooklyn-based multimedia composer, to come to Iowa to find out. Bates, whose award-winning music-production company Fall On Your Sword has scored feature films, gamely stood on Iowa’s open plains capturing the wind as it rushed past, while a video crew documented the work of the blades. With an ear for identifying unique sounds, he also harmoniously amplified the sounds of our Fort Madison factory equipment, while the film crew captured the machinery that transforms wind into clean energy. After five cold, dark days in March, Bates had collected enough tones to record a beautiful, graceful rendition of Strauss’ “Blue Danube” that sounds unlike any version of the iconic waltz ever recorded.

Below you can enjoy the beautiful results of Bates’ careful orchestration and hear his wind-powered “Blue Danube.” And let us know what you think of this winderful masterpiece.

You can also watch the full video and learn how music was created with wind in Iowa

Sheila Oliva's picture

Thank Sheila for the Post!

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Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Jul 31, 2014 4:58 pm GMT

Wind (and solar) needs to be backed up by fossil fuels, to the tune of at least 75%, or so the conventional reasoning goes. We have to develop (advanced) nuclear, or so one would honestly be inclined to think.

Isn’t there a way to convert wind’s electricity (or heat via electrode) into carbon neutral fuels (or carbon free with just hydrogen or ammonia)? I mean, this is often touted for nuclear, why not wind? Then we could really sing a song!

Sheila Oliva's picture
Sheila Oliva on Jul 31, 2014 6:31 pm GMT


Thank you for your comment and question. In fact there is a way to take excess wind power and use it. You may find a video Siemens recently produced on the Bison wind farm in North Dakota interesting. It discusses the linkage of that wind farm to hydro power in Canada:

So, I am guess I am answering a video with another video. But, I hope the two together make you sing!



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