Sunlight, wind, and falling water are the big three renewable energy sources. These are energy sources that are commonly available at a reasonable cost. We’ve found in our years of experience that wind and hydro energy sources are most often best developed as a booster or bad weather helper for a solar-based system.
Hybrid systems—using wind or water combined with solar energy—have the advantage of being better able to cover power needs throughout the year, and are less expensive than a similar capacity system using only one power source. The only common exceptions are systems designed for utility intertie; they feed excess power back into the utility, and turn the meter backwards.
- We generally advise that a good site for year-round wind turbine energy isn’t a place that you’d want to live! It takes average wind speeds of 8 to 9 mph and up, to make a really good resource for energy. That’s honestly more wind than most folks are comfortable living with.
- This is where the beauty of hybrid systems comes in. Many very livable sites produce 8 mph or more during certain times of the year, or when storms are passing through, and this wind can be harnessed.
- Tower height and location also make a big difference. Wind speeds average 50 to 60 percent higher at 100 feet compared to those found at ground level.
- The cost of a wind power system includes the cost of the wind turbine itself, the tower, and its installation. The total cost of micro turbines can be as little as $500-$1,500 depending upon the tower used and its height. Bigger machines are more costly, but can be more cost-effective.
Excerpted from the Real Goods Solar Living Source Book, edited by Doug Pratt and executive editor John Schaeffer. Copyright (c) 1999, Real Goods. Reprinted by permsision of Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Real Goods.
Excerpted from Real Goods Solar Living Source Book, edited by Doug Pratt and executive editor John Schaeffer.