Tag Archives: Small Wind turbines

Wind Energy Good News for Small turbines

Picture Source skystream

Wind energy is on the move! literally! It is good news for the Small wind turbine market. As per the AWEA’s latest report 2010 AWEA Small Wind Turbine Global Market Study despite the recession and economic downturn the US market for small wind turbines grew 15% in 2009 with 20.3 Megawatts of  new capacity and $82.4 Million in sales! Small wind turbines are those with rated capacities of 100 kiloWatt or less. This increase suggests an addition of 10,000 units pushing the total installed capacity to 100Megawatt.

Wind energy has a history of 80 years and more than half of the growth has been in the last 3 years when the price of petroleum sky rocketed and the issue of clean energy came to the fore front.

The 2009 Amercian Recovery and Reinvestment Act expanded the Federal Iinvestment Tax Credit (ITC) for small wind turbines, allowing consumers to take fully 30% of the total cost of installing a small wind system as tax credit. Private investors also helped the economy  by pumping in investement  into wind turbine manufacturing.

Some key points and data from the report :

  • 95% of all small turbines sold in the US were also manufactured in the US!
  • 2/3rd of all wind turbines sold the world over were manufactured in the USA.
  • Approximately 250 manufacturers around the world manufacture or plan to manufacture small wind turbines, of which 95 are based in the USA.
  • Most wind turbines have a 15-25 year life span and minimum maintenance if any.
  • The federal ITC provided a monetary impetus & in addition gave the industry a positive boost making it more viable to investors, state governments and media alike.
  • A Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bond is a financial tool which helps consumers with the high initial investment cost of renewable energy equipment. It is available in 18 states now.
  • Approximately 100,000 units of small wind turbines have been sold in the US since 1980.
  • Manufacturer’s say the fastest growth last year was in the Midwest states.
  • In the recent years these states showed the highest sales percentage : California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, New York, Massachussets and Ohio. The State governments have played a big part in making this happen by providing incentives and helping with streamlining permitting laws.
  • Poor or nonexistent local permitting laws hinder installation of about 1/3rd of the planned small wind turbine installations.
  • Standardizing and simplyfying grid interconnection procedures will help promote all alternative energy installations.

A single residential scale turbine displaces (or reduces) Carbon Dioxide produced by 1.5 average cars!

100 MW cumulative small wind energy installations total to approximately :

  • 17,000 cars removed from the road
  • 12,000 equivalent numbers of homew powered
  • 101,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide displaced!!

 

The report says the following about demand for small wind energy systems. Economically investors look at the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of renewable energy sources as a better way to assess its value istead of the payback period. Hedging against the rising price of conventional electricity and it being market dependant where as alternative energy prices are steadier once installed.

Small wind turbines integrated with a hybrid Solar system is becoming a practical option for home owners. Zero Energy Home is a very attractive proposition in a volatile energy market. there is also the charm of owning one’s own electricity instead of renting!

Pricing is always a big worry on everyone’s mind as one considers an alternative energy source, same is true for wind. On the web there are pricings from

Price ranges for small wind turbines – and even for a single model – vary widely due to the numerous factors affecting installation, but costs for a well-sited turbine tend to gravitate between $3 – 6 per Watt, and $0.15 – $0.20 per kilowatt-hour. Costs and cost-recoupment periods can vary due to the following factors, ranked in approximate order of importance:

  • Availability and quality of state incentives and state/utility net metering policies
  • Average annual wind speed
  • Prevailing costs of traditional electricity. Installations tend to be most cost-effective in regions where the cost of utility provided electricity exceeds $0.10 per kWh.
  • Cost of equipment, installation, and maintenance.
  • Estimated operations and maintenance (O&M) costs average $0.01 – $0.05 per kWh. Other calculation methods place O&M costs at roughly 1% of the retail cost of an installation, accrued annually.
  • Sales and property tax rates (and incentives).
  • Raw manufacturing materials.
  • Insurance.
  • Method of financing.
  • Permitting costs, which can range from $0 to $1,000+ depending on the zoning jurisdiction.
  • Application type.
  • Installations for businesses may benefit from special tax incentives.

5 Leading Manufacturers of small wind energy systems as of 2009 are (in order of total kiloWatts sold world over)

  1. Southwest Wind Power (US)
  2. Northern Power Systems (US)
  3. Proven Energy (UK)
  4. Wind Energy Solutions (Netherlands)
  5. Bergey Wind Power (US)

Hoping this trend will continue! Green is a new lifestyle! and it is even more attractive when financially viable. There is talk about a legislation in 2010 which will try to create a nationwide requirement for all major utilities to derive a certain percentage of their energy generation from renewable sources. This is called Renewable Energy Standard or RES, which is in place in 28 states already.

You can read the entire report here

Check out a small wind turbine system from Skystream here

Source for picture : Skystream.com

Graphs : awea.org