02-Mar-2006 -- As we hot-footed down the highway from Toulouse towards the Mediterranean Sea, with the medieval walled city of Carcassone on the left and the glistening snow-covered Pyrenees to the right, it suddenly occurred to me that a confluence point could be within detour-able distance.
The GPS was put through it’s paces and 43N and 3E looked promisingly close. It was Elisabeth’s birthday and we did not have a lot of spare time, or a map of the local area, so with the GPS and Jenni leading the way, we swung off the A61 and headed towards Sigean. After passing through the village and taking various twists, U-turns and turns, we ended up on a rough track among the vineyards. We forded a creek and slowly but surely, progressed closer and closer towards the CP.
At 1.5 km from the CP, we parked the car at the bottom of a particularly rocky stretch and continued on foot. At one point we cut through the bush for a short distance and the air was fragrant with wild oregano and rosemary as we brushed the undergrowth. It appeared that the land was once used for sheep farming with various long-abandoned and ruined stone farm buildings and walls.
At the top of the hill we discovered a ridge and extending along it were a series of 15 wind turbines with huge blades methodically swooping in the breeze. The 10 largest are rated at 660kW each. These were installed in July 1991. The view was magnificent with the distant Pyrenees to the south and no obvious habitable building in sight. Scattered across the hilltops as far as one could see were other clusters of wind farms. The owner of this wind farm is La Compagnie du Vent
Standing there, in that remote and beautiful corner of southern France, watching the turbines gracefully at work, it seemed a wonderfully simple, clean and sustainable energy resource.
It is encouraging to discover that this form of power generation is finding favour in the European Union. Portugal has just committed to a project which will supply enough electricity for 750,000 homes with 500 turbines at various locations to be erected. According to The Guardian newspaper (London - Friday 3 Mar 06), the countries in the EU with the highest installed capacity are Germany and Spain and overall the global wind power market increased by 43% last year. (The total capacity now stands at 59,322MW, a fraction of the total electricity supply but never-the-less a figure which is rapidly increasing.)
And so 43N 3E is situated about 100m to the east of a row of wind turbines at an elevation of 104m. At the CP the vegetation is sparse as the area is rocky, windswept and the climate influenced by the Mediterranean Sea just a few kilometres away. The spiky, spindly vegetation would possibly suggest it is also a low rainfall area.
This is a particularly enjoyable confluence point to visit, easy to reach as a spur of the moment deviation without any prior planning or special information required - just the fun of finding the way with the GPS as the only point of reference.