Wind power is now one of the most affordable electricity sources. Some wind farms also have lower generation costs than coal power plants. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Texas has more than 15,000 wind turbines. This amounts to 30 million kilowatts. Wind power is now the second-largest source of electricity in Texas, surpassing only natural gas.
You can generate your electricity if you have the right weather conditions. However, keep in mind that wind turbines cannot be productive on low-wind sites. You can look into energy efficiency and solar power options in these situations.
Is your land suitable for a small wind turbine?
The US Department of Energy states that sites with wind speeds of less than 10 mph are suitable for connecting to grid-connected wind farms. The wind resource manual, available from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), uses seven classes to describe wind resources. The DOE recommends that at least Class 2 be used to describe a site under the following conditions:
Height above the Ground Wind Speed Range
10 m (33 feet) 9.8 – 11.5″ mph
30 m (98 feet) 11.4 – 13.2 MPH
50 m (164 feet) 12.5 – 13.3 mph
A taller tower can produce more electricity from a wind turbine. Experts recommend tower heights of 80 to 120 feet.
Small-scale wind turbines are most successful on sites with a steady wind and are not interrupted by obstacles. Open plains or properties on the lakefront are some examples of sites that can provide wind power. Hilltops is another good site. Avoid sites with high buildings, valleys between hills and mountains, or forests.
What is the Electricity Production Capacity of a Home Wind Turbine?
Two main factors affect the electricity output of small wind turbines: the nameplate capacity (in kilowatts) and the local wind conditions. The capacity factor is used to describe the electricity output of wind turbines. An example can be found here:
- Let’s say you have a 10-kilowatt turbine. It would produce 87 600 kWh of electricity if it operated at its maximum output for the entire year (8760 hours).
- This ideal scenario is not possible, as the wind changes constantly.
- A turbine with a capacity factor greater than 20% means that the turbine’s electricity output is 20% below the ideal maximum value of 17,520 kWh.
According to the US Department of Energy, small wind turbines typically have a capacity factor of 16%. The US Department of Energy has found that small wind turbines have a typical capacity factor of 16%.
What is the Average Cost of a Small Wind Turbine?
Wind turbines benefit from economies of scale. Their total cost rises with their size, but their cost per kilowatt decreases.
Large turbines are used in Wind farms. They cost less than $2,000,000 per Megawatt ($2,000/kW), but some projects have had costs as high as $1.3 million per Megawatt ($1,300/kW).
Although small wind turbines are cheaper, they can be more expensive per kilowatt. A 50-kW unit with 50 kW will run you over $150,000. This means that you can expect to pay $3,000 per kilowatt. Wind turbines less than 100 kW are eligible for an Investment Tax Credit. The following schedule is available:
- 26% on wind turbines that are installed in 2020
- Wind turbines to be installed in 2021 at 22%
The 50-kW wind turbine in the above example would cost $111,000 in 2020 and $117,000 by 2021.
Payback Period for a Residential Windmill
An installed cost for a 10-kW wind turbine is $30,000 to install. This drops to $22,200 when you subtract the federal credit (26%). The annual savings of $1962 are 11.3 years if we assume the 16% capacity factor. If the turbine has a 25% capacity factor, the annual savings increase to $3,000. And the payback period drops to 7.2.
These examples show that the payback period for a wind turbine can vary based on wind conditions and the cost of each kilowatt. It would help if you also compared the prices of different turbine providers to get a better deal.
These tables display the annual savings and payback periods for a 10-kW wind turbine. They assume several costs per kW as well as capacity factors. The project receives a 26% federal tax credit and an electricity price of 14c/kWh.
This is a simplified calculation. Before purchasing a wind turbine, it is recommended to have a professional assessment. The payback period will vary depending on the turbine cost and wind resources.
The Latest Innovations in Residential Wind Turbines
Wind turbines are different from solar panels, which produce electricity with no moving parts. They have a rotating rotor that spins at high speeds. Wind turbines can cast flickering shadows that make neighbours uncomfortable if they fall on windows. These and other reasons mean that wind turbines are more restricted than solar panels and are not permitted in urban areas. There are new wind turbine designs on the market. Some of these are better suited to residential areas.
- Wind turbine walls have generators and rotors mounted in a rigid frame. This allows for a more discreet design that blends well with commercial and residential buildings.
- Kite wind turbines are built to operate high above the ground, where winds are stronger and more steady than the ground. A cable with sufficient strength is used to anchor the kite to the ground. It also contains electrical connections.
- Bladeless wind generators do not have spinning blades as expected from their name. Instead, they have a vertical structure that resonates in the wind and is used to drive an electrical generator.
- Vertical-axis wind turbines can generate electricity at lower wind speeds, and their blades move slower. VAWTs are safer in urban areas because they have a lower wind speed, and their blades move slower than traditional turbines that use a horizontal axis. VAWTs have the added advantage of their generator being on the ground and not on top of an elevated tower. This greatly simplifies maintenance. UNLIKE TRADITIONAL TURBINES, a VAWT generates electricity from wind in any direction, which must face the wind.
Combining a Wind Turbine with Solar Panels and Battery Storage at home
Solar panels and wind turbines can produce electricity at a lower cost than traditional power plants that burn fossil fuels. They provide energy inputs for free and require no maintenance or replacements. But, solar and wind power are still limited because of their variability. You can’t manage sunlight or wind, so you can’t regulate their output. Instead, it would help if you used clean energy electricity whenever available.
The combined power output of wind turbines and solar panels can be less variable when installed in the same house. Each system has its variations, but generation is only stopped when there is no sun or wind. You can create a reliable power supply without relying on fossil fuels by adding energy storage. Batteries are rechargeable with excess power from solar panels and wind turbines. They can also provide power for when there is less generation.