Small Wind Power is Growing Fast, Even Bush Sr. Will Get a Wind Turbine

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Residential wind power is the too often forgotten little brother of the wind power industry that builds turbines on the scale of jumbo jets. But it's starting to grow up and come out of the shadow of its bigger sibling. "improved generator technology [lighter magnets in the generators, blades that adjust to wind conditions, and units that wirelessly report how much power they're making], more financial incentives, rising electric rates, and energy-security concerns have opened the way for small-wind power to bloom in unlikely places."

That's right, they aren't just for the farm anymore. You should see more and more small wind turbines in suburbs and urban settings as time goes on. Of course, we're still talking small potatoes compared to big wind power, on the order of only 3 megawatts in 2007 according to the American Wind En ergy Association (AWEA), but that's triple the generating capacity of 2006. A few more years of tripling and doubling, and the power of exponential growth will be felt.One benefit of small wind is that it's probably easier for new manufacturers to throw their hats in the ring. It's not quite the massive industrial challenge that building an Enercon E-126 wind turbine is...


Supplying that tiny but red-hot market are dozens of new companies that have popped up since 2000. Though a half-dozen companies dominate the market, AWEA tracks about 45 US manufacturers. With demand strong overseas, too, the US is the world leader in small-wind power, exporting more than half of what it sells.

In the US, there are at least 26 states with incentives for small wind, but even in states where there is nothing, growth is strong, showing that it's not an artificially inflated bubble.

Even former US president George H.W. Bush is reported to be getting a 1.8-kilowatt "Skystream" wind turbine made by Southwest Windpower.

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