Wind Turbine Developments for the Individual Homeowner
If you have been looking for a good, concise education on wind turbines for everyman, you should check out the August 15 edition of the Wall Street Journal. In an article titled "A Novel Way to Reduce Home Energy Bills: Smaller, Quieter Wind Turbines Reduce Reliance on Power Grid, But Cost and Aesthetics Are Issues", Sara Schaeffer Munoz covers the territory. Reporting that the American Wind Energy Association estimates sales of "small wind*" devices are up 62% since 2004 (in the USA) in the wake of increasing subsidies from State and local levels, the article also mentions some of the obstacles awaiting the eager harvester of the wind. Most usefully, the article points out several leaders in the market, covering the price/performance range.First the obstacles: Most wind power systems are subject to permitting. In addition to the simple bureaucracy, objections from neighbors can be triggered by aesthetics, property value concerns, fear of toppling towers and the bird kill eco-myth, delaying installation plans for months.
Some of the turbines manufacturers mentioned by WSJ you have seen here first. For the economy budget, the Skystream 3.7 features improved performance in light winds and can provide 1.8 kw for a starting price of $8500, installed. TH has mention the 1 kW Bergey a couple of times, but WSJ features the Bergey BWC Excel 10kW system, $45,000 to $60,000 installed, but capable of supporting an efficient household and using airfoil technology which is effective in winds as low as 9 mph. At the top end of the range, also providing 10 kW nameplate generating capacity is the ARE442 from Abundant Renewable Energy, costing up to $80,000 installed. For more links and leads, and a pic of a roof-top turbine that's just plain cool, check out the TH piece Wind Turbines on the Edge.
The bottom line: if you have at least half an acre of land, wind speeds of at least 10 mph and an electric bill of at least $60/month, you might be a candidate for your own wind power installation. If you live in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Wisconsin, your payback time will have the advantage of a nice subsidy (up to 50%) off of your investment.
*"Small wind": the market for turbines rated at under 100kW, although the vast majority of home systems are under 10 kW.