Flat Ridge Wind Farm
Barber County, Kansas

J.S. and S.W. Aber


Introduction

The Flat Ridge Wind Farm is located in northeastern Barber County, south-central Kansas. It consists of 40 Clipper 2.5 MW turbines that can generate up to 100 MW of electricity, enough for about 30,000 average American homes. The turbines have a hub height of 262 feet (80 m) and rotor diameter of 314 feet (96 m). The farm was developed by BP Wind Energy North America under contract to Weststar Energy, each owning half of the project. Construction began in 2008, and the farm became operational in 2009.

The wind farm occupies about 5000 acres on a mesa-like ridge that is part of the High Plains physiographic region. The ridge overlooks lower, eroded terrain of the Red Hills to the south and the Chikaskia River drainage to the north. Most of the ridge top is devoted to crop agriculture. Winter wheat is the main dryland crop; cotton and other crops are grown also with irrigation. The rougher, eroded margins of the ridge are utilized mostly for cattle grazing. The turbines are arranged in approximate lines extending east-west over a total distance of six miles. Many turbines are situated in cattle pastures to minimize disturbance of the crop fields.

We set up in a cattle pasture at the eastern end of the wind farm, where the kite would fly a good distance away from the turbines. Notice numerous cattle trails across the foreground and winter wheat fields in the background.

Our kite aerial photography took place in mid-March with typical unstable weather conditions for this time of year. We began in mid-morning with a south wind of 15-25 mph and mostly sunny, but hazy sky. We flew a small delta kite with our Canon S70 camera rig. Wind speed gradually grew as low clouds and fog moved in, but we were able complete our work before clouds cast shadows over the site. By afternoon, wind increased to 30-40 mph—too much for KAP!

Aerial overviews
Views looking westward. Left: low-height shot from ~200 feet. Right: full-height shot from ~400 feet. Notice cattle grazing around base of nearest turbine.
Views looking toward the southwest. Left: both northern (right) and southern (left) lines of turbines are visible. Right: southern line of turbines.

Aerial and ground shots
View toward the southeast looking toward the morning sun under hazy sky. Turbines at the eastern end of the wind farm are silhouetted against a high-contrast background.
Closeup view toward the west. In the upright position, the blade tip is about 420 feet (128 m) above the ground, which is about the height of the camera for this shot.
As usual, we attracted an audience. In this case cattle rather than people, came over to see what we were doing in their pasture. After a short visit, they moved on to continue grazing.
The wind turbines are arrayed in east-west lines either side of Ridge Road, which is named appropriately. Notice the harvested cotton field in the foreground.

Related sites


Text and images © J.S. and S.W. Aber

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Last update: March 2011.