Flat Earth conspiracy theorists are not going to like this one. If you have been on social media lately, you might have seen a stunning picture of a row of wind turbines disappearing into the horizon, with their blades seemingly tilted upwards.
The picture was taken by photographer Jan D’Hondt from a beach in Ostend, Belgium, and it shows the Thorntonbank offshore windpark in front of the Belgian coast. The picture has gone viral because it appears to demonstrate the curvature of the earth in a striking way. But how does it do that? And what can we learn from this picture about its role in renewable energy?
How the Thorntonbank Offshore Windpark is Able to Show Curvature of the Earth
Contrary to what Flat Earthers believe the earth is spherical. This means that its surface curves away from us as we look at it from any point. The curvature is very subtle and hard to notice from our everyday perspective, but it becomes more apparent when we look at objects that are very far away or very large.
The wind turbines in the picture below are both far away and large. The Thorntonbank offshore windpark is located about 30 km (19 miles) off the Belgian coast, in water ranging from 12 to 27 metres (39 to 89 feet) deep. The wind turbines are 95 metres (312 feet) tall, with a rotor diameter of 126 metres (413 feet). The distance between each turbine is about 500 metres (1640 feet).
Because of the earth’s curvature, the wind turbines that are farther away from us appear lower on the horizon than the ones that are closer. This creates an optical illusion that makes them look like they are sinking into the water. The blades also appear to be tilted upwards because they are parallel to the earth’s surface, which curves away from us.
The effect is similar to what happens when we look at a ship sailing away from us. At some point, we can only see the top part of the ship, and then it disappears completely behind the horizon. This is not because the ship sinks or the water rises, but because the earth curves.
Details About How The Thorntonbank Offshore Windpark Was Built and What It Cost
The picture also showcases the impressive scale and scope of the Thorntonbank offshore windpark, which is Belgium’s first and largest offshore wind farm. It is also one of the largest offshore wind farms in Europe.
The project was developed in three phases, with a total installed capacity of 325 MW. The first phase was completed in 2009, with six REpower offshore wind turbines of 5 MW each. The second phase was completed in 2012, with 30 additional wind turbines of 6.15 MW each. The third and final phase was completed in 2013, with 18 more wind turbines of 6.15 MW each.
The project cost about $1.3 billion and was financed by a consortium of private investors and public institutions. The project also received support from the European Investment Bank and the European Commission.
The wind farm generates about 1,000 GWh of electricity per year, enough to power about 300,000 Belgian households. It also reduces about 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, compared to a modern gas-fired power plant.
The wind farm is connected to the shore by a 37 km (23 miles) long undersea cable that transmits the electricity to a substation in Zeebrugge. The electricity is then sold to various energy suppliers, such as Eneco and Electrabel.
After seeing this photo it’s going to be tough for Flat Earthers to continue saying that the planet is not round.