Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Save Money with Wind Power

Wind energy expert Paul Gipe, author of Wind Energy Basics: A Guide to Home—and Community-Scale Wind Energy Systems, goes to great lengths outlining the differences between power and energy, and debunks the myths of wind turbine manufacturers’ unscrupulous “power ratings.” Knowing the difference between these terms, Gipe says, will inform your decisions on alternative energy, and perhaps most important these days—save you money.

So…

What’s Energy?

According to Gipe, “Energy is the ability to do work or the amount of work actually performed. For our purposes here, energy is given in kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity produced by a wind turbine or consumed in a home or business. When most people pay their utility bill, they pay for the electricity they consumed in kWh.”

What’s Power?

“Power is the rate at which energy is generated or consumed,” Gipe says, “that is, kilowatt-hours per hour (kWh/h) or kilowatts (kW). One kilowatt is 1,000 watts (W). One megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts or 1 million watts.

“The distinction between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours is critically important. Knowing the difference can keep you from being confused by a wind turbine’s size in kilowatts (or for very small wind turbines, watts), and how much energy, in kilowatt-hours, it will actually produce. Some unscrupulous manufacturers play upon the public’s ignorance of this distinction and give their wind turbines a very high “power rating” when the actual turbine is unlikely to deliver as much electricity as a competitor with a low power rating.”

How Does This Save You Money?

According to Paul Gipe, there are three factors in the economics and profitability of wind energy.

  • The installed cost
  • The amount of electricity generated
  • The cost of operating and maintaining your turbines

Saving money means lowering the cost of installation and operating costs, or increasing your turbine’s productivity. You’ll make more money if the tariff for wind energy increases, too (it just did: in Vermont).

Basically, the “power” rating of a wind turbine—what manufacturers use to false market their goods—is actually an unreliable way to gauge how much energy a wind turbine will capture. Gipe says you should concentrate on the actual energy itself, and in particular the rotor diameter—which is the most reliable indicator of how much electricity a wind turbine will generate.

So when you’re shopping for your turbine, remember to ask about energy and inquire about the rotor diameter. The rotor—the most important aspect of a wind turbine—is the part right behind the blades, which facilitates the blades sweeping the air, and thereby generating energy. Bigger diameter, in this case, catches more energy from the wind. The question is, what size you need. Household-size wind turbines generate about 10kW, with rotors about 100 feet in diameter, for example, whereas large wind turbines can generate 3MW, with rotors 500 feet in diameter.

For more information on rotors, wind turbines, and how to save money on wind energy, read Gipe’s Wind Energy Basics; or go towindworks.org

Cross-posted at Planet Green.


Get Ready, Get Resilient

Are you resilient? How about we put your answer to the test, literally. Now, we know that assessment is always an important, albeit imperfect, subjective, and incomplete tool. In order to understand one’s skill in living a resilient lifestyle, Ben Falk, author of the award-winning The Resilient Farm and Homestead, developed the following assessment tool. […] Read More

Happy Holidays from Chelsea Green Publishing!

Today we kick off our Holiday Sale — with 35% off every purchase at our online bookstore. Simply use the code CGS16 at checkout from now until the end of the year. Along with this great discount, we are offering free shipping on any order over $100*. Are there homesteaders or organic gardeners on your […] Read More

The 5 Rules of Lean Thinking

Are you ready to co-create the future? These 5 Rules of Lean Thinking are a useful tool as we set out to collectively invent a post-market future. Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food. Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive […] Read More

Using Permaculture Principles to Design Resilient Cities

The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures. Author Toby Hemenway (Gaia’s Garden) lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com