When you harness the wind, you are creating a free energy source that reduces the amount of electricity you purchase. Because wind is renewable and non-polluting, using it helps to protect the environment, reduces dependency on fossil fuels, increases self-sufficiency, and protects you from future electricity price increases.
Before you begin to explore the benefits of a small wind energy system, there are a few facts you should know and questions you should answer.
Location, Location, Location
The amount of wind at your site is critical because wind speed determines the amount of energy a turbine will produce. Not every site is ideal for a wind turbine. For example, a 10kW turbine at a site with an average annual wind speed of 10 miles per hour produces about 7,200 kWh per year, approximately the annual electric needs of a small house. With an average annual wind speed of only 8 miles per hour, the same turbine will only produce about 3,300 kWh per year. An increase from 8 to 10 mph doubles the output of the system .
How do I find out if there is enough wind on my site?
The amount of wind can vary significantly over an area of just a few miles because local terrain can greatly influence wind flow. There are many resources that you can use to help determine the amount of wind in your area:
- Use the wind resource maps available from NYS Small windExplorer. Keep in mind that these maps provide only an estimate of the wind resource in your area; don’t be discouraged if your initial reading seems low. A wind installer can help determine the actual potential for a wind energy system at your site.
- Observe the vegetation in your area for signs of consistent wind flow, such as trees that are permanently deformed by strong winds.
How do I choose the best site for my wind turbine?
The amount, speed, and direction of wind can vary within the same property. You also need to consider existing obstacles and future obstructions such as new buildings or trees that have not reached their full height. If you live in complex terrain, you will want to work with an experienced wind installer to select the best installation site.
Do I have enough space for a wind turbine?
You should have at least an acre of land with a suitable location set back from trees, buildings, and property lines.
What permits and approvals do I need?
You should speak with local representatives to determine any building permits, electrical permits, approvals, and certifications that are needed prior to installing a wind system. The permits and approvals you need depend on many factors, including whether the system meets the requirements to receive incentive funding from NYSERDA or if your wind turbine is connected to the electric grid. Your wind installer and local utility can help you comply with all rules and regulations and receive all necessary approvals before your system is up and running.
What about the impact on my neighbors’ properties?
Think about how close your turbine might be to any building, neighboring property lines, and any environmentally-sensitive areas such as bird habitats, wetlands, and historical preservation areas. Your neighbors may be concerned about the visual impact of the tower and turbine, so you should discuss this with them before proceeding. People are often concerned about the potential noise of the system, but a wind turbine generally creates no more noise than the average home refrigerator. Projects applying for incentive funding from NYSERDA must supply letters of acceptance from neighbors or be approved at a public hearing.