Is my site suitable for a wind turbine?
Will my property be suitable for a wind turbine?
Above all others, this is the key question to bear in mind when looking into wind turbines. The suitability of the site dictates the financial gain to be made from the wind turbine installation. A location suitable for the installation of wind turbines will have the following attributes:
- An average wind speed of at least 5m/s
- Free from turbulence caused by nearby obstacles such as hills, buildings and trees, which slow the wind down
- In the case of pole-mounted turbines, enough land on which to build foundations and attach guy ropes (if necessary)
- There may well be state or even county regulations that you have to meet or prevent you from installing wind turbines in a particular areas.
Highly populated urban and suburban sites are unlikely to be suitable for the generation of energy with wind turbines, and are better suited to other renewable energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and ground source heat pumps.
Wind turbines are best suited to elevated and open sites in rural and coastal areas. It is for this reason that one finds many domestic and industrial wind turbine installations on farms and ranches across the US, particularly in areas such as Texas.
Assessing your local wind speed is the first step to take when making a decision on purchasing wind turbines. You can find out your local wind speed by visiting your state weather site or local weather station.
If the result of this preliminary test is that your area’s wind speed is greater than 5m/s, the next step would be to monitor the wind speeds that your property receives over a set period of time. At least 3 months’ monitoring is vital, although it is recommended that you monitor for 12 months in order to account for seasonal variations in wind speeds.
The best way to carry out this monitoring is to buy an anemometer (typically costing a few hundred dollars) and place it at the same height as that of the proposed turbine. The anemometer will measure average and maximum wind speeds, as well as levels of turbulence at your property, and log the data which can then be accessed by a computer interface. Some anemometers also measure wind direction, although this can be done with a separate weathervane.
If the results of the wind speed monitoring are encouraging, you can then arrange for an accredited engineer or technical surveyor to inspect your property and assess the feasibility of a wind turbine installation. You will also want to look at all the state legislation and what incentives are available to help you bring down the final cost.