watching for windmills

Uncategorized Jun 04, 2024

As the sun rose on our last full day aboard our cruise ship, I peeked out of the window to find that we had crossed into the Netherlands during the night.  Here the landscape was once again flat, but it didn’t feel like the river of the first few days.  The scenery along this portion of the river was more bucolic, dotted by small farms and populated by horses, cows, sheep and goats.

Our ship turned into the wide canal that makes a straight shipping lane from the Rhine into the city of Amsterdam.  I saw my first windmill off in the distance as we passed by the small town of Wijk bij Duurstede.  More windmills followed.

Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside were originally swamplands.  Built below sea level, at one time hundreds of picturesque windmills were pumping water out of the ground providing the Netherlands with a solid foundation on which to build the cities and farms.  Most of those windmills are gone now. 

The windmills that serve Holland today are turbines built offshore in the North Sea and provide electricity.  On isolated days throughout the year, when the wind is really blowing, the Netherlands actually powers its whole grid with wind power.  On those days the Dutch are sent an alert that everyone should do their laundry right then, for surplus energy cannot be stored.  It’s use it or lose it.

As we flew out of Amsterdam, I saw the wind turbine installations on a massive scale from the window of our plane.  I am in full support of renewable energy.  However, nostalgically, I think I prefer the old windmills.

Love, Liz