Central Plains Wind Farm
Marienthal, Kansas

J.S. and S.W. Aber

Ground observations (2009)

In late November 2009, we had the opportunity to visit the newly completed and operational Central Plains Wind Farm, located near Marienthal in eastern Wichita County on the High Plains in western Kansas. The 33 Vestas V90 (3 MW) turbines are arranged in long rows, extending east-west, a couple of miles north of K-96 highway. The nominal generating capacity is 99 megawatts. Owned by Westar Energy, the wind farm produces power for more than 26,000 homes annually. The wind turbines are amazingly quiet—a gentle swooshing sound.

Surrounding land is mainly agricultural fields including dryland winter wheat and irrigated summer grain crops. The winter wheat was just beginning to grow when we visited, and irrigated corn already had been harvested. Public county roads provide good access to drive near the wind turbines on the ground; we did not attempt any kite aerial photography, however, on this initial visit.

Ground shots from public county roads
Long lines of wind turbines stand next to fields of newly emergent winter wheat in these late autumn views. It's obvious that operation of the these turbines has little impact on the agricultural land use here.
Left: line of wind turbines with adjacent service road. Right: single wind turbine highlighted against the typical azure sky and thin clouds of the High Plains. Note the distinctive, gently curved blades of the Vestas turbines.
As the signs indicate, wind turbines are situated on private land; visitors should enjoy the view of "green" energy production from the safety of public roads, as we did.

Kite aerial photography (2010)

We returned the following year, in late October 2010 with our KAP equipment and perfect Indian summer weather. From the empty back side of a small cemetery near Marienthal, we had a nice overview of both the town and wind farm from a safe distance. With a constant southwesterly breeze of 10-15 mph, we flew our large rokkaku and used two camera rigs—Canon S70 (wide-angle lens) and Canon Rebel (lens zoomed for slight telephoto). We noted the Vestas V90 turbines were turning about five seconds per revolution (12 rpm), an optimum wind speed for our purposes.

Panoramic view showing nearly the whole Central Plains Wind Farm. Two lines of wind turbines run from west (left) to east (right).

Telephoto shots looking toward the northeast showing the
nearer line of wind turbines (west to left, east to right).

Typical views of agricultural land use to the east (left) and southeast (right) of Marienthal. Both square and round fields are visible. Round fields are for center-pivot irrigation; square fields are used for non-irrigated crops.
Town of Marienthal. Left: overview showing nearly all the town including grain elevators next to the Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad. Right: telephoto shot of St. Mary's Catholic Church.
Electrical energy from the wind turbines is collected and fed into the transmission grid at the eastern end of the wind farm. Note wind turbines visible behind substation.

Related sites

Text and images © J.S. and S.W. Aber

Return to KAP gallery or home.
Last update: Oct. 2010.