Wind turbines create a beautiful and imposing sight against the horizon. They stretch high in the air, spinning madly in the wind, winding away to produce energy. Last year, the U.S. installed more wind capacity than any other country,Energy.gov reports. Homeowners can harness that valuable natural resource themselves to power their homes.
Photo by Flickr user USFWS Headquarters
The Technology Behind Wind Power
According to the American Wind Energy Association, more than 45,000 turbines are located in the United States, providing 42 percent of new electricity generating capacity to the country. Wind power works by wind pushing the turbine blades. When the turbine blades spin, they also cause a shaft to spin. The shaft connects to a generator within the wind power installation, which creates the electricity you can use in your home.
Wind turbines are found in many areas of the country, as well as offshore to harness winds coming off of the ocean. A company called Gamesa created a turbine that can convert energy from even slow-moving winds. While this particular type of turbine is not residential-sized yet, it is important technology that advances the accessibility and efficiency of wind energy to locations that might not have been great for wind power previously.
Residential Wind Power Turbines
Small-scale wind power turbines are designed for individual use in residential areas. They connect into your house’s power grid, so you can use them to supplement the electricity you’re getting from the utility company. This drives down your energy costs overall, and you can drop it further by comparing energy suppliers‘ rates.
The sizes of the residential wind power turbines vary, but generally, the higher you can go with the turbine, the more electricity you’re going to generate. There are small models available that fit on your roof, if you don’t have the room or budget to put a turbine in the ground. Almost all of the residential models are in the windmill style. To determine whether or not it’s worthwhile to install a wind energy turbine on your property, you need to know the average wind speed in your area. Some states, such as Texas, get plenty of wind, along with the room that makes turbines easy to take advantage of it.
Other areas aren’t so fortunate, and the return on investment takes longer to gain. You also need to make sure you have the proper permits to install a wind turbine. Your local area may have specific regulations regarding the height and installation process. While residential turbines aren’t as large as industrial-sized ones, it’s advised to consult with a professional installer.
One wind power option that sits in between industrial-scale and residential-scale is community wind projects. These are wind power projects funded by a specific neighborhood, business, town or city to provide electricity to the local area. These projects have more resources than individual residential wind power initiatives, so it’s an option to look into if you want to explore wind power but don’t want to sink money into a renewable energy source that might not work out as well as you’d like.
Article contributed by: Timothy Thompson at Socialmonsters.org