Sussex Tech: Old And New
An example of this came to mind when, as part of our programme of public talks we welcomed staff from the Rampion Wind Farm. Locally we had watched from the South Downs or sea-front as 116 wind turbines were installed 13 Km offshore Worthing over a number of months and a new cable was buried, snaking its way over the Downs to a sub-station some 20 Km from the shore. When the operations people from Rampion gave their talk to 98 IET members and non-members at the University of Sussex (one of our two talk venues) the field was supplying power to the National Grid. It seems that each turbine can produce up to 3.45 MW, giving an installed capacity of 400 MW. The offshore substation raises the 33 KV from the turbines to 150 KV for transmission to the onshore substation, where the voltage is raised to 400 KV. We were told that the turbines start generating electricity at wind speeds of around 3 m/s and generate maximum power at 12 m/s. They cut out when wind speeds reach 25.5 m/s to prevent damage. You can find out more about the Rampion Wind Farm at https://www.rampionoffshore.com. These photos were kindly provided by Rampion Offshore.
However, Sussex is dotted with another, much older form of power generation from the wind. One example is Shipley Mill, located about 10 Km south of Horsham. It was built in 1879 for the sole purpose of harnessing the power of the wind to grind grains to produce flour and it continued to do so until 1926.
Shipley is an eight-sided smock mill, so-called because she (it seems that all windmills are female) is supposed to look like the old-fashioned farm labourer's smock. The wooden tower is fixed, but the cap rotates so that the sails face the wind. During the 1990s the mill was restored and re-opened, although, as you can see in the photo, with only a single pair of sweeps. Unfortunately the mill in not currently open to the public, but you can find out more about Shipley Mill at http://www.shipleywindmill.org.uk.
There are many windmills in Sussex and a few onshore wind turbines, for example at Shoreham Harbour and at Glyndebourne. It is interesting to see local technologies that are separated by 140 years with the same purpose, harnessing the power of wind for human benefit.
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