Wind turbines have been generating electricity for over 100 years, and have made quick work of other household tasks for even longer. Originally used for agrarian tasks like grinding grain or pumping water, wind turbines have more recently become incredible and efficient generators of electricity. A modern wind turbine can be capable of generating enough energy to power hundreds of homes. While it is possible to benefit from large scale wind farms while still living in a city or suburb, if you live in a more rural area you can choose to install your own small scale wind energy system. Residential wind is a large investment, but the payback lifetime of clean energy that can go as far as to completely eliminate your electric bill.
Costs of Residential Wind Turbines
Much like setting up a rooftop solar system, residential wind generation requires property owners to meet some criteria first. Some questions you need to answer before making the investment include:
**Is there enough wind where you live? **Before installing residential wind infrastructure, you need to know how much wind you can harness for your energy needs. The first step would be to look at a wind map of your area and see if your area is estimated to have high wind speeds. Next, you will need to conduct an on-site wind speed survey to confirm your wind resource.
**Do zoning regulations prohibit residential wind systems in your area? **Some areas are restricted from having residential wind energy systems because of zoning ordinances that regulate the height of structures, sound level, visual impact and wildlife interference. Before starting to invest in a wind energy system you need to make sure that your property and plans meet the criteria set forth by the appropriate governing body.
**How much electricity do you need to generate? **The amount of energy you need to generate will depend on what you are using your wind power for. This will also determine the capacity needed of your turbine. You can, using a small capacity turbine (20 W - 10 kW), power an electric vehicle or pump water. With a larger capacity turbine (400 W - 100 kW) could generate enough to power your home, or even several. For example, a 1.5 kW wind turbine can meet the needs of a household that demands 300 kWh of electricity per month when the area gets on average 14 mph winds.
**What does a residential wind system cost? **Residential wind systems vary in cost depending on zoning and construction. If you want to incorporate yours into the grid it will likely be more expensive. According to the Department of Energy, the average cost of a residential wind system with a one-kilowatt capacity is $5,760.
Residential wind is not for everyone, and with a large upfront cost, it can turn people away. But, if you are in a situation where you or your property can afford to have a wind system, the earth will thank you, and eventually, you will produce enough energy that your wallet will thank you too.
Costs of Commercial Wind Turbines
Commercial wind energy is becoming one of the most affordable resources for powering cities and homes. While they require a massive area in order to install, commercial wind turbines can produce energy less expensively than residential systems, and more of it! In 2015 the Department of Energy estimated that the cost per kW of capacity was $1,690. That’s over $4,000 less expensive than a residential turbine. Commercial, costing over $1 million per MW of capacity have the ability to power thousands of homes. Large scale wind farms are not only becoming more affordable, they are becoming more common. In 2015, $14.5 billion was spent on the creation of 8.6 GW of new capacity. That investment made up 41% of new capacity additions in 2015.
Development costs of commercial wind turbines vary greatly depending on the location of generation and capacity. Offshore wind farms have a large construction cost and are almost as expensive as residential wind production when it comes to dollars per kW. One of the most recent additions to U.S. offshore wind capacity sits three miles off of the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. The energy generated by this farm shut down the island’s diesel plant living residents clean energy. Commercial offshore wind turbine development has the potential to quadruple the U.S.’s current electrical capacity and could power about 800 million homes if fully invested in.
Over 50% of Fortune 100 companies have renewable energy goals and emissions reduction targets that they plan to meet through commercial wind generation. This investment allows them to minimize fluctuating costs of electricity while improving upon their corporate social responsibility. The important thing to understand about commercial wind is that it benefits more than just corporations and large companies. With a 1 MW wind turbine being capable of powering hundreds of homes, millions of U.S. house holds are powered by wind energy. This is good news for people who don’t have the resources to build a residential wind turbine on their own property.