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Small wind turbines might not be worthwhile  RSS feed

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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The Oil drum just published some results of real-world testing of small wind turbines:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6954

There are a lot of ways this technology can go wrong. If they're placed somewhere that isn't very windy, they might consume more energy than they harvest. In some cases, the time to payback of their embodied energy is many times as long as they are expected to last.

I'm a little more positive on this technology than the tone of that article, though. I think it's important for people to learn, and some waste always occurs in the process of education, research, and development. Simpler, more-robust, less energy-intensive, more localized, and less condition-sensitive designs will result from a broad-based deployment of small and medium wind turbines, and it makes a lot of sense for tinkerers to begin with small designs.

Wind turbines can also be useful to charge batteries off the grid, in which case even a failure to pay back embodied energy is OK, as long as it is better than hauling generator fuel to the site.
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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I have heard and read nearly the same thing. I recently read "Homebrew wind power" by Dan Bartman and Dan Fink and this was address in a bit of detail. This is a very good book on the subject of not just building wind turbines but also accessing how they will work for your site.
kent
 
Franklin Stone
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Size matters. Low-tech magazine has some great articles on wind turbines and the historic use of windmills.

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/04/small-windmills-test-results.html

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2008/09/urban-windmills.html

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/10/history-of-industrial-windmills.html

I really love the Low-tech Magazine site. Lots of great articles on the historic (and forgotten) uses of technology. We can learn a lot from the past.
 
Rion Mather
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It has been several years (maybe around 2008?) since I did any research on small wind turbines. At that time, the average cost with government incentives was about $30,000 to install. This forum doesn't seem to get a lot of activity but I am wondering if turbines have become more affordable since my original research? I live in an area that would benefit from wind power more than solar. It is just too overcast to provide the full benefit of solar power, from what I have been reading recently on Permies.
 
Rich Cadwalader
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Location: Arkansas
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I read the article on theoildrum.com. The technology is not "fundamentally flawed" because I think two important factors were missed:
1. Wind power generation (as it relates to residential applications) is new, and all new technologies are week, wasteful, and impractical from a cost point of view. (Just take computers as an example, or any other consumer electronic device.They get cheaper as they gain technological advancements, acceptance and popularity. Or look at the GM EV-1 back in the 90's. Impractical, expensive, not profitable, marginally dependable... now there's the Volt, Leaf, Prius, etc. and they are cheap, profitable, and dependable.)
2. It is not a direct replacement for grid power. It is supplemental. I think most of us here would agree that humans need to change the way we use power, and be less wasteful, and take a different approach to... well, everything. It does not have to be 61 Degrees in your Man Cave all summer long.

Just my two cents y'all.
 
Gerald O'Hara
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Location: 45.7187 N, -97.4436 W (where it is really cold)
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G'day Mates,
I've been reading this forum for a while but decided it would be more interesting to contribute.
I currently utilize a hybrid system wth 16 solar panels and a 3 kW wind turbine. They charge 24 AGM batteries. I am using most of it but a little bit goes back into the grid.
As long as the grid is working (and that may not be long given the fact that the Iranians have completed their "project") I use grid power for things like the water fountain heaters for my cattle.
So far, the system is powerful enough to do almost all of what I actually need to be, shall we say, reasonalby comfortable in the 20th century way.
As for the small wind turbine not being worthwhile, I would suggest that the author of that statement live without any power, then put a small turbine on line with adequate battery system and see if their mind changes.
I have a 6000 watt inverter. I am able to use my lights (all CFC or LED), my frig and chest freezer, my washing machine, the well pump, a tankless water heater (propane) and the geothermal heat or pellet stove if things go really "south".
Obviously, not all of it can be used at the same time, but as you can see, I am able to live "within my means" (Energy-wise) and be able to enjoy the 20th century.
Now that I have this system up and running, I am working on building a rocket-mass heater and some assorted rocket stoves.
Since electrical energy is the one thing that separates us from the 18th or 19th century I believe that we can invest in alternative sources now so that if we get an "EMP" or some other form of "disturbance" life will continue at something that resembles sanity...assuming the rest of the world does NOT go completely haywire.
YMMV
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidlis, Fratres Aeterni
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//BT//
 
Irene Kightley
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I would suggest that the author of that statement live without any power, then put a small turbine on line with adequate battery system and see if their mind changes.


Good point Gerald !

We too have a hybrid system and in winter it's often the two little Rutland 910s (17 and 20 years old this year) that allow us to have electricity.
 
We should throw him a surprise party. It will cheer him up. We can use this tiny ad:
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