FAQ's

Is wind energy expensive?

Wind energy is the cheapest form of new electricity generation available today. Wind power is more expensive than power from old, established power plants, but is cost competitive with any new power plant.

Technology innovations and market building incentives have helped to dramatically lower costs over the last 20 years. When the first commercial-scale wind turbines were installed in the 1980s, wind generated electricity cost up to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. Today, wind power plants can generate electricity for less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, a price that is competitive with new coal- or gas-fired power plants.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of connecting my wind system to the utility grid?

The advantages of utility interconnection include having standard utility AC power when you need it, not just when the wind blows; eliminating the need for storing excess electricity in batteries, which can be expensive; and you only pay for the net electricity used. One disadvantage of net metering and net billing may be the cost of the interconnection, which can vary considerably from utility to utility. There are efforts to get standards in place for interconnection guidelines.

What is net metering and net billing?

The concept of net metering programs is to allow utility customers to generate their own electricity from renewable resources, such as small wind turbines and rooftop solar systems. The customers send excess electricity back to the utility when their wind system, for example, produces more power than needed. Customers can also get power from the utility when their wind system doesn’t produce enough power. In effect, net metering allows the interconnected customer to use the electrical grid as a storage battery. This helps customers get higher (retail) value for more of their self-generated electricity.

For more information visit the Green Power Network website to learn about specific net metering policies in your state.

How big are wind turbines?

Wind turbines range in size from tiny micro turbines to enormous utility scale power production facilities. Large turbines may have blades that are over 50 meters long - meaning the rotor diameter would be over 100 meters long - more than the length of a football field! The commercial-scale turbines are often placed on 100 meter towers, so the tip of the blades might reach as high as 160 meters (525 feet) in the air.

Smaller home- or farm-sized turbines usually have a rotor diameter of up to 15 meters (50 feet) and can be placed on 30 to nearly 50 meter towers.

Our scale of wind power diagram depicts the different sizes of wind turbines and the generation capabilities:

(click to enlarge)

How much do wind turbines cost?

Wind turbines come in many shapes and sizes, but here is a general guideline on how much they cost:

Total costs for installing a commercial-scale wind turbine will vary significantly depending on the number of turbines ordered, cost of financing, when the turbine purchase agreement was executed, construction contracts, the location of the project, and other factors. Cost components for wind projects include things other than the turbines, such as wind resource assessment and site analysis expenses; construction expenses; permitting and interconnection studies; utility system upgrades, transformers, protection and metering equipment; insurance; operations, warranty, maintenance, and repair; legal and consultation fees. Other factors that will impact your project economics include taxes and incentives.

The costs for a utility scale wind turbine in 2012 range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed. This cost has come down dramatically from what it was just a few years ago.

Most of the commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3-$4 million installed. Wind turbines have significant economies of scale. Smaller farm or residential scale turbines cost less overall, but are more expensive per kilowatt of energy producing capacity. Wind turbines under 100 kilowatts cost roughly $3,000 to $8,000 per kilowatt of capacity. A 10 kilowatt machine (the size needed to power a large home) might have an installed cost of $50,000-$80,000 (or more) depending on the tower type, height, and the cost of installation. Oftentimes there are tax and other incentives that can dramatically reduce the cost of a wind project.

For More Information:

How do I lease my land to a wind project developer?

Wind developers buy the turbines from the manufacturers, lease the land to place the turbines, construct and operate the development, and sell the electricity to a utility or distribution company. As a landowner, your business role will be to negotiate a contract for the lease of your land to a wind developer.

To prepare for this, you need to understand your product (your land) and market it to your customer (the wind developer).

Wind developers are looking at more than just a strong wind resource, though. They are also looking at the availability of transmission lines, the amount of open space, and a host of other factors.

In reality, if a developer is interested in your land to host a project, they will contact you. Wind developers assume that landowners have not performed any preparatory analysis of their land. They choose sites based upon their own analysis methods. When they have located suitable sites, they contact the landowner to negotiate a lease. Sometimes before deciding on the land they will ask the landowner if they can perform their own analysis of the site, including installing an anemometer (wind measuring instrument).

If you think you have a sufficient understanding of your land and your wind resource, you can invite conversations with developers. Wind developers range from large, multi-national wind turbine manufacturers to small regional businesses.

Windustry has developed several documents that provide information for both landowners and developers about how to negotiate fair lease deals. Visit our leases and easements page to read about lease agreement guidelines, compensation packages, and best practices.

How do I measure the wind resource on my land?

Wind assessment takes place at a number of different levels: consulting a wind map, obtaining previously measured data, and taking your own measurements. The cheapest and easiest way to assess your resource is to consult a wind map. Wind resource maps of your state are available at Wind Powering America

. It is important, however, to remember that wind maps are seldom detailed to the level of individual homesteads and there are many factors, such as hills, buildings, and trees that may further cause variances from the map. Nevertheless, it is a good place to start to give a general idea of your resource and do some basic economic analysis.

The next step is to obtain data that has already been measured by other groups in your area. State governments frequently have weather stations around the state in which they receive wind speed data. Also, airports keep track of wind speeds in their area.

Finally, you can measure your own wind speed by installing a device called an anemometer. Some state energy offices have a loan program in which you can rent an anemometer and data loggers to record your wind speed data. Contact your state energy office to learn more. You can verify that the data you collect is consistent with long-term wind Site-specific measurements using anemometers are considered by some to be the most reliable estimates of the wind resources for a project. However, they can be quite costly and require from one to several years to complete. Other methods also exist where large scale computer weather models are created to extrapolate wind conditions at a specific site from historical data. Many times these computer models of a site’s wind resource can be less expensive than taking meteorological readings for a year or more.

Do wind turbines harm wildlife?

Birds and bats occasionally collide with turbines, as they do with any tall structure. A few older wind projects have raised concerns about bird impacts because they were built in areas with sensitive raptor populations. Careful siting and wildlife studies make it possible to avoid most wildlife problems.

For more information check out these websites:

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative has a Wildlife Workgroup 

American Wind Energy Association provides a  number of resources

Are wind turbines noisy?

For turbines of 40kW size and larger, on a windy day, the sound of the turbine is drowned out by the wind even just a short distance from the turbine. Current technology makes sound almost a non-issue at most wind farms. However, wind turbines do produce some sound, which means wind farms should be sited with this in mind.

Some small turbines, smaller than 40kW, can get noisy in strong winds. There are many different brands of small turbines, and the sounds from each and the conditions which cause the sounds vary. If you are thinking of purchasing a small wind system, be sure to research this aspect of the turbines.

For More Information. search "Turbine noise" at these sites:

American Wind Energy Association

Renewable UK

 

 

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