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Wind Power, How does it work?

Wind Power, How does it work?


Imagine capturing mother nature’s power of wind and using it to generate electricity. A wind turbine has two or three propellers that turn when the wind blows, and turns faster as the wind speed increases. These propellers are connected to a generator that turns to make either alternating current(AC) that can be tied directly to a home’s electrical system or direct current(DC) that can charge batteries for slow wind times and/or connect through an inverter to the home’s system. An inverter converts the direct current to alternating current that can be used in your home.

The two most important factors in designing a wind system are the blade length and the tower height.

The longer the blades, the more swept area of wind will be caught. The area is increased dramatically with an increase in blade length (Area=3.14xRadiusxRadius. The radius being the blade length) The higher off the ground the rotor, the faster the wind is that turns it. The power created is proportional to cube of the wind speed, so even a minor increase in wind speed will dramatically increase the electrical output. If the wind is blowing too hard the wind turbine will automatically turn sideways to prevent destruction, but it will still turn, creating power. Another reason to raise the turbine as high as possible is to avoid turbulance from the ground or surrounding impedements. The turbulance will at least decrease the efficiency of the turbine and, at worst, can destroy the turbine. The tower should be at least 30 feet higher than the highest point within a 500 foot radius. This being said, it is not unusual for the tower to cost more than the turbine itself.

Financially speaking, the cost to create a unit of electricity goes down as the size of the turbine increases

For example, say a home sized, 7 meter diameter turbine on a 100 ft tower that makes 14,000 kWh per year costs about $35,000 and would pay itself back in about 15 years. Now lets say a small business that uses a lot of electricity puts in a 29 meter diameter turbine that makes 480,000 kWh per year and costs $300,000. This turbine would pay itself back in about three years. This is a simple comparison, but the general rule is the larger turbine you can afford (for your needs), the better return on investment.

More and more areas have energy buy-back programs, known as net metering, allowing owners of wind systems to sell excess electricity back to the power company. In general, the utilities will not credit you at retail rates for electricity that you produce over your typical demand. So it makes sense to size a system for what you use, but not larger.

Living Off-Grid and Wind Power

Some owners choose to remain off the grid if the cost of extending electrical lines to the house is not cost-effective. Some decide to become independent of all utility companies or want to go completely green. Those who choose to remain independent of the grid can still generate power for themselves in the event that the grid power cuts off, as in the event of a storm. An ideal off grid system might combine wind power with solar power and store electricity in batteries for when no solar power is being generated. These hybrid solar and wind systems allow each component (solar and wind) to be sized smaller and electricity is continually generated no matter if the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Every location has its own characteristics of average wind speeds and average hours of sunshine, and all should be sized accordingly.

Wind Power in Kansas

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of Kansas is placed in the center of America’s wind tunnel, a corridor stretching from North Dakota south into the Texas panhandle, where the vast majority of the nation’s best on-shore wind resources are located. Kansas has the 2nd highest wind potential in the U.S. with an estimated over 952,000 MW possible capacity, capable of generating over 3,101,576 GWh.

 

US Wind Map

 

Am I a candidate for a Wind Power or Wind and Solar Hybrid System?

Good Energy Solutions can help you determine if your home or business is a good candidate for Wind Power. Even in the state of Kansas, not all properties are ideal for Wind Power. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Kansas is among the 10 sunniest states in the country, with the same solar power potential as Florida. Let us inspect your property for proper elevation and minimal wind turbulence, and determine if wind or solar would be a better investment for your property. Please contact us for more information.

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