Many homeowners around the world are interested in exploring opportunities for small scale wind, but a gap exists between education and action. There are many issues that have to be addressed before an individual decides to implement wind on their property, including questions about wind potential, federal and state incentives and environmental issues associated with wind.
The bottom line is that wind energy has to provide a tolerable return on investment in order for it to be utilized on a large scale, effectively replacing non-renewable sources. Wind Products, a company based in New York City is focused on improving the economics for small wind consumers. Their work will help to sustain and increase the growth of the distributed generation wind market, where wind energy currently accounts for the fastest growing segment.
Founded in 2007, Wind Products was formed to enable wind energy harvesting in cities and the company was awarded a $1 million New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant in 2008 to develop a turbine to meet that objective. The company has also developed Wind Analytics, a web based tool to help energy consumers understand wind resources on their property, making them better equipped to make good decisions about using wind turbines for on-site generation.
Their innovative Butterfly, a 3kW rated vertical axis wind turbine, can be used for residential, commercial and industrial purposes. It is safe, cost effective, emits low noise and is visually pleasing. The reaction to their turbine has been positive, especially from an aesthetics point of view, which is a critical component to adoption.
There are still many who are offended by the sight of turbines blissfully spinning in the distance. Naturally there will be those people that don’t want turbines in their neighbor’s yard. Coal, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants are out of sight and therefore out of mind, yet people are outraged about the BP oil spill and the recent mining accidents. It is a question of what is (really) important to the consumer…not seeing a wind turbine or the mounting danger related to utility scale power producers?
The potential for wind is very high, but because wind is intermittent it can only be utilized for about 30% of a utility’s energy mix. Improved energy storage capabilities in the future will increase that percentage, but other challenges persist. Power prices are wholesale, and currently low, so when selling wind to a utility this pricing impacts the viability of utility scale wind projects. There are also the costs and issues associated with transmission and the availability of financing, making the upfront costs high.
If you are interested in finding out if you have wind on your property, visit their website for an evaluation. If you decide wind energy is right for you, check out this website to learn more about renewable energy incentives.