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Wind Energy

In this section you can find information on residential wind turbine systems.  This section provides detailed information on the equipment you need to harness wind energy and the requirements for wind energy sites. 


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wind maps

When considering whether or not wind energy is applicable in your location, an accurate wind map can be an invaluable resource.  One place to start is with some of the national and regional level wind maps available through the site provided by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)  at www.nrel.gov/gis/wind.html. This site offers both a national wind resource assessment of the United States and high-resolution wind data. The national wind resource assessment was created for the U.S. Department of Energy in 1986 by the Pacific Northwest Laboratory and is documented in the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States, October 1986. This national wind resource data provides an estimate of the annual average wind resource for the United States. The wind resource assessment was based on surface wind data, coastal marine area data, and upper-air data, where applicable.

Here is an example from the NREL site of a national wind map showing the Average Annual Wind Power for the US.

National and regional wind maps can give you the big picture but if you really want to understand what is going on locally you need a state and local wind map. The NREL site has wind maps for most individual states.  In addition, many state energy departments or commissions provide state and local wind maps via the Web.  Below is an example of a state level wind map for California provided by the California Energy Commission.

When reviewing wind maps it is helpful to see if you can find maps which show not just average wind speeds but seasonal wind speeds.  The wind speed can vary dramatically by season in many locations.  This is especially important to know if you are living off-the-grid and would be relying on wind or a combination of wind and solar to provide your power.  If the wind doesn't blow much in winter and you are relying on it for energy it is good to know up front.  The good news is that wind and solar energy tend to be inversely related and often the worst season for solar is the best season for wind.  By looking at seasonal maps for both wind and solar you can determine if this is true in your location.

Another factor to take into consideration when looking at wind maps is the altitude.  Some wind maps provide wind speeds at higher elevations which may not reflect ground speeds.  Remember, a good rule of thumb is that the wind at ground level needs to be between 7-9 miles per hour if you are going to have sufficient power.

Special Feature
The wind energy field is rapidly maturing and becoming a major source of energy for a growing population. To see a perfect example of this check out our  new feature: The Evolution of Wind Energy in the Tehachapis. The Tehachapi mountains are one of the windiest areas in the U.S. and wind power has been established there for over 30 years. Learn how succeeding generations of wind technology have helped this area become one of the country's top energy producers.
New Products
400 Watt Wind Turbine

The Sunforce  400 Watt Wind Generator uses wind to generate power and run your appliances and electronics. Constructed from lightweight, weatherproof cast aluminum, this generator is also a great choice for powering pumps or charging batteries for large power demands. With a maximum power up to 400 watts or 27 amps, this device features a fully integrated regulator that automatically shuts down when the batteries are completely charged. The 44444 is virtually maintenance free with only two moving parts, and the carbon fiber composite blades ensure low wind noise while the patented high wind over speed technology guarantees a smooth, clean charge. Assembly is required, but this generator installs easily and mounts to any sturdy pole, building, or the Sunforce 44455 Wind Generator 30-Foot Tower Kit. The 44444 uses a 12-volt battery (not included) and measures 15 x 9 x 27 inches (WxHxD).

Wind Factbook
The first windmill for electricity production was built in Cleveland, Ohio by Charles F. Brush in 1888.  By 1908 there were 72 wind-driven electric generators from 5 kW to 25 kW. The largest machines were on 24 m (79 ft) towers with four-bladed 23 m (75 ft) diameter rotors.

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