Small Wind Energy
December 3, 2009
In the world of wind energy there are multiple categories of wind energy production. One category that is beginning to grow very rapidly is small wind. Small wind generally refers to wind turbines that produce 100KW of energy or less. These types of wind turbines can be used by individuals or small businesses looking to harness alternative energy resources. Small wind turbines offer clean, renewable, and sustainable energy allowing for conservation of natural resources and independence from traditional means of energy production. During these times when energy costs are rising as well as the concern for the environmental impact our energy consumption has, alternative energy production by employing means such as small wind turbines, are becoming viable solutions to these problems and the way of the future.
Currently the United States leads the world in wind energy production and wind turbine manufacturing. The market for small wind energy has been growing at a rate of 40% per year and is expected to continue to increase. It is projected that by 2020 small wind turbines will produce 3% of the United States electrical energy. Although wind turbines still carry a sizable upfront cost this may be something that is about to change. With the demand rising production of wind turbines will increase causing the price of production to go down and along with government incentives will make it much more affordable and create a larger market for wind energy. Comparatively a small wind system costs significantly less than a photovoltaic system, although one of the main advantages to photovoltaic systems is a much larger geographical applicability. An average small wind system costs around $1000.00-$5000.00 per kilowatt and has a payback period of 10-15 years possibly less depending on location and wind availability. The drawback to wind energy is the lack of area with enough wind and allowable physical space for them to operate. Most small wind systems are installed in rural areas and are not able to function or be installed (due to height restrictions or concerns for aesthetics) in highly populated areas such as cities due to operating requirements of the wind turbines.
Approximately 60% of the United States has sustainable winds capable of providing enough wind for wind turbines to generate electricity. With wind technology advancing and the large amount of wind in the United States, electricity produced by wind turbines is not a passing fad however it is quickly becoming a serious main stay of energy production in the United States. Advancements in wind turbine technology have produced very reliable and low maintenance turbines. Even though growth of the technological design of wind turbines is moderately slow, steady advances will continue to be made producing solid wind turbine systems that are more efficient and cost effective. There have been many standards and testing criteria created insuring the quality of wind turbines being manufactured and in the upcoming National Electric Code there will be a section dedicated solely to small wind turbines. Wind energy is a natural resource that is in abundance in the United States and small wind turbine systems are a very versatile way of harnessing this resource allowing groups other than utilities to take advantage of this renewable resource. Renewable resources such as wind energy are the future of power production in the United States and are crucial to providing a cleaner sustainable energy that is needed for our survival.