An introduction to Wind Turbines
If you have been on the coast or in the country, chances are you will have come across those colossal white windmills, their blades turning slowing in the breeze. These wind turbines harness the kinetic energy of the wind and turn it into valuable electricity. Many states of the US are ideal for such a renewable energy technology and there is currently 75,000 MW of power being produced across the country, supplying power to millions of homes and businesses.
Wind turbines have had their critics over the years, notably because of their impact on the aesthetics of the environment, but that hasn’t stopped the development of new plants to help meet renewable targets for the next decade.
Since the beginning of civilised history, we have been trying to utilise the power of wind, in sailing ships or to power windmills to process grain and make it into flour. The first windmills reached England in the Middle Ages and the first turbine created to generate electricity was developed as far back as the late 19th Century.
In the 1930s they were fairly common on isolated farms in the United States, providing electricity before any national grid was formed. The rise of our dependence on fossil fuels dampened any further development over the years until we reached the present age where we are in dire need of renewable energies. In the last 20 years, the development of wind turbine farms has grown dramatically and, although it only currently provides around 1% of our UK energy needs, it is set to continue do so for the immediate future. More on the history of wind turbines.
When people mention wind turbines it immediately brings to mind the huge wind farms dotted across the countryside or seen far out at sea. The truth is that there are quite a variety of wind turbines from vertical and horizontal axis arrays to roof mounted and free standing. Find out more about the different types of wind turbine.
Even with all its recent developments, the heart of wind turbine technology is still beautifully simple. Wind drives the blades, which turns a shaft in the neck of the turbine, which in turn feeds an electrical generator. The wind needs to be blowing at around 10 to 30 miles per hour and a 1.8 MW construction can produce electricity for about one thousand homes. Find out more about the workings of a wind turbine.
Many people think the only option for generating their own electricity is to get solar panels but domestic wind turbines are starting to gain popularity. They are more suitable for remote locations for aesthetic reasons but a typical set up can cost between $3,000 for a 1 kW system and $100,000 for 15 kW at the higher end of the market. Find out more about how much domestic wind turbines cost.
Finding the right source of finance for a big project such as a wind turbine can often be hard work. Fortunately, there are number of federal and state grants and loans available as well as tax rebates and credits. Read our guide to finance options for wind turbines.
One of the first things people want to consider is the impact on the price of their property. The other factor to think about is whether it would put some potential buyers off if you have a wind turbine. You may also want to check first whether you need to have planning permission to install either a pole or roof mounted wind turbine. Find out more here.
While the cost of installing a decent sized wind turbine in the United States is expensive, for the right location the return on investment is still pretty good. The more power you can make the quicker you will be able to pay off any loan. Find out how much profit you are likely to make on your wind turbine installation.
Wind turbines are more complicated electrically than they at first seem. There are a number of electrical parts that need to be connected and maintained over the years. These include isolation switches, generating boxes, inverters, and meters. Find out more about electronics for wind turbines.
Whether your site is indeed suitable for a wind turbine, either as a roof mounted installation or a free standing tower, is one of the big decisions you will need to make. Unlike other renewable technologies, wind power is not right for everyone. Find out whether your site is suitable for a wind turbine here.
For smaller wind turbine systems, it is possible to do a DIY installation but it requires a certain degree of ability and understanding of the electrical components. In many states, if you want to qualify for rebates and tax credits then you will need to undertake a professional installation. Find out more about building your own wind turbine.
With few moving parts, a domestic wind turbine should have a life expectancy of around 20 years. Some manufactures claim that with proper maintenance their installation will last at least 30. Warranties offered are generally in the region of 10 years, so you need to consider the cost of ongoing maintenance when you decide whether you are going to opt for a wind turbine or not. Find out more here.
One of the popular options at the moment is to rent your land for a wind farm. Many companies are looking for suitable areas to invest in and, if your wind speeds are up to the mark, it can be a profitable way to go. Find out more about renting land for wind farms.
It’s one of the big questions that prospective buyers ask before they sign the contract. Installing a wind turbine comes with some caveats, but if you have the right site and the right product, you can make a significant amount on your initial investment. Find out if it’s worth installing a wind turbine.
There are a number of legal and planning issues to unravel in many states if you want to have a wind turbine installed. This quick guide tells you all you need to know about legal and planning permission.
It takes some work to install a wind turbine, whether you want it fitted to your roof or you are going for a free standing array. This guide takes you through the whole wind turbine installation process.
Wind turbines may start to change in the coming years, from the stark white columns we are used to seeing to more imaginative, and artistic, designs that blend in or complement the surroundings. It may be the case that art will come to the aid of the land-born wind farm.
Whatever developments are coming our way, there is no doubt that wind turbines are here to stay and are an important part of the country’s renewable energy strategy. Find out more about the future of wind turbines.
Like most renewable technologies wind turbines and the industry have a number of associations and levels of certification that are designed to raise standards for manufacturers, installers and suppliers.. Find out more about certification bodies for wind turbines here.
If you have bought your wind turbine from a reputable installer or manufacturer you should have a warranty on it. But you also need to consider protection like insurance and the future maintenance of your installation. Find out more here.
For a list of manufactures and installers of wind turbines click on one of the links below:
- Domestic and smaller pole-mounted wind turbine manufacturers (up to 100kW)
- Roof-mounted wind turbine manufacturers
- Manufacturers and types of wind turbine
- Installers of wind turbines