Green Power Switch News
Vol. 6, No. 1 Spring 2006
Let wind work for you
It’s the fastest growing generation technology in the world, says the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Can I use wind energy to power my home? Is wind energy practical in the Southeast? How do I install a wind system?
These are some of the most common questions TVA receives about its Green Power Switch Generation Partners Program. The program is open to small wind systems with outputs of 0.5 to 50 kilowatts AC and purchases the power at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour.
For many Tennessee Valley residents, generating electricity from small wind systems is not a practical solution due to wind patterns in the region. However, some areas in the eastern part of the Valley have sufficient wind resources available. If you live in a region with enough wind and have adequate space, if tall towers are allowed in your area, and if your power distributor participates in the program, a small wind system installation may work for you.
Such a system starts with site selection and planning all aspects of the project. The primary costs are for the wind turbine, tower, conductor, controller, inverter, and labor. Costs can vary widely depending on the size of the unit, but you can expect to pay from $2 to $4 per watt for equipment, plus the cost of installation for a typical small wind turbine system. A larger size turbine requires more support and detailed operation and maintenance planning.
Home wind energy systems generally comprise a rotor (blades), generator or alternator mounted on a frame, tail, tower, grounding system, wiring and controllers, and inverters (grid-connected systems) or batteries (nonconnected systems). An inverter is necessary to make the turbine output electrically compatible with the utility grid. U.S. suppliers of small wind turbines include Bergey Wind Power, Southwest Wind Power, Aeromax Corporation, and Abundant Renewable Energy.
TVA worked with Appalachian State University to test small wind turbines on Beech Mountain, North Carolina. The tests showed that avian and bat mortality was not an issue with these systems, nor was excessive noise.
For more information on wind power, including a detailed map of available wind resources, go to www.nrel.gov/wind.
For more information about the GPS Generation Partners® program, see www.gpsgenpartners.com.