> wind power generators, are they right for you?

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wind power generators, are they right for you?
Last updated 11:07 pm, Tuesday 16th November 2010

Wind power generation right for you?

Wind power, to most people, is usually symbolized by wind farms made up of many large wind turbines producing millions of watts of electrical power. Although there is a complete spectrum of ways of generating electricity from the wind, right down to portable turbines mounted on small boats to keep the batteries topped up.

For the average consumer there is really only two ways to utilize wind power at home. The first, and perhaps the easiest, is to choose an energy supplier who utilizes wind power as part of its supply chain; i.e. they use wind farms to supply a certain percentage of their power.

Now, this may be good for the environment (although we have our doubts, more later); more often than not you are wanting to be good to environment and reduce your energy bill costs. This technique will not guarantee the second outcome for you, as we seem to be in a time of rapidly rising energy bills no matter which way you turn.

So, that leaves us with the second option, generate your own wind power. Now on the face of things this sounds quite attractive, but once you start looking into the specifics at hand, you will find you need to be in a very particular situation to stand a good chance of benefiting from using wind power in this way.

The winds must blow...

Now, before you think we are stating the obvious; you need to have the right 'kind' of wind blowing across your block to actually generate power. The wind needs to reasonably constant and of sufficient force to keep a wind turbine spinning. This is actually harder than it sounds, as most people (given the choice) would choose not to live on a constantly windy block. Also if your wind tends to be more 'gusty' then you run the risk of the wind turbine going over speed and just shutting down for safety reasons during the really strong winds.

At the right time..

Now, given power is only generated when the right wind blows, you therefore need to be in a position to consume said power when it happens; this is very hard to achieve in practice, so other 'backup' power solutions need to be present. This is usually in the form of some grid connection to give you constant power.

Although if you are grid connected this does present you with the opportunity to get on a 'feed-in' tariff whereby the excess power you generate is fed back into the grid and you get a credit for it. There is also a 'gross' feed-in tariff, in which you get paid for all power generated, although these are rare, capped and of short duration - as most governments have realized its financially unsustainable over the longer term.

So if you are grid connected, you will usually be able to sign up to a feed-in tariff system, so therefore sizing your system and knowing how much power you could generate is important.

Sizing your system..

First of all you need to establish what the base load is across the day, this will tell you what amount of power you need to generate in each given hour to get into the 'feed-in' tariff range.

When you need to find out what the mean wind speed is on your block for each month of the year.

Then go online and ask around the suppliers to see if it possible for you to obtain a wind turbine that will produce the required output from the available wind speeds you have. Quite often there is a minimal wind speed cut off below which no matter what size of system employed it is just not feasible at all, see if you can get them to tell you that - then you can make a quick decision to proceed further with wind power or not.

The noise..

Of course something not usually mentioned is that wind power is often a noisy undertaking, the blades will 'whoosh'. So using wind power in an urban setting is often very difficult and expensive to achieve.

Conclusions

Well, like Solar Power, wind power is usually only really fully viable on its own when there is no other energy source readily available (like the grid or hydro). You will need to give it very careful consideration when compared against grid power. Also make sure you have a feed-in tariff in operation.

Related Tags: wind power, wind farms

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Comments left

  • blackglass said:

    Wind generators certainly aren't right for everyone. I think you'v done a good job of explaining it in a simple way. Great post.

    Lumo Energy offer feed-in tarrif in Victoria - Electricity retailer. Worth checking out.

    ON Wed, 15 Dec 10, 3:30am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

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