Small Wind Energy: Answering Your Questions

Wondering whether wind energy is right for you? You're not alone. Here are the answers to what others are asking.

Small Wind Energy: Answering Your Questions

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Small wind turbineThe small wind energy market is really picking up. There are nearly 160,000 small wind energy systems installed across the country, according to the World Wind Energy Association, and that number is growing. Despite this, installing a wind turbine on your property is hardly a breeze. This article will help to answer your questions about this clean, reliable source of power.

How do wind energy systems work?

Wind turbines convert the moving energy in wind into renewable electricity. As the system's turbines spin in the wind, a rotor captures that motion to drive an electric generator. Most turbines have automatic speed control systems to keep the rotor from spinning too fast in very high winds.

Is my property suitable for wind energy?

Estimate your site's wind resource; it can vary significantly over an area of just a few miles, due to changes in local terrain. Wind installers generally recommend an average wind speed of at least 12 miles per hour. Consult the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)u00a0wind resource maps to estimate average wind speeds in your area, or obtain wind speed data from a local airport or weather station.

What size wind turbine do I need?

The size will depend on your energy use, the average wind speed at your site and the height of the wind turbine, all of which will affect the amount of energy it generates. A typical home uses approximately 9,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, according to the DOE. Based on the average wind speed in your area, a turbine rated in the range of 5 to 15 kilowatts (kW) would be required to make a significant contribution to this demand.

What is the cost and payback?

The cost of installing wind energy can vary significantly, depending on the size and height and height of the system. Wind resource, energy prices and available financial incentives will affect the payback period, which can range from 6 to 30 years, according to the DOE.

What financial incentives are available?

The federal government provides a tax credit for up to 30 percent of the cost of installing residential wind energy systems. A variety of state and local financial incentives are also available. Search Energy Incentives Programs from the DOE for information about programs in your area.

Are there any zoning or permitting issues?

Before you invest in a small wind energy system, contact your local building inspector or zoning board to find out about any zoning or permitting issues. They can tell you if you will need to obtain a building permit and provide you with a list of requirements.For more information about planning and installation, see Small Wind Electric Systems from the U.S. Department of Energy.u00a0*Image source: iStocku00a0*

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