Preface to the Second Edition
Wind Energy Basics: A Guide to Distributed Wind Energy is a revision of my 1999 Wind Energy Basics: A Guide to Small and Micro Wind Systems. As the new title suggests, this version expands the scope of the earlier book to include commercial-scale wind turbines used in distributed applications. As such, this book includes wind turbines of all sizes. This edition makes a distinction between large numbers of commercial-scale wind turbines used in central-station power plants, or wind farms, and wind turbines used singly or in small clusters both on and off the grid.
This book is not by any means exhaustive, nor is it intended to be. In the more than three decades I’ve worked with wind energy, the field has grown so vast that it’s no longer possible to confine the technology within the covers of one book, even after limiting it to distributed applications.
Wind Energy Basics is intended as a companion to Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business (Chelsea Green, 2004). In 1999 Wind Energy Basics introduced micro and mini wind turbines and explained how to install and use them. This version introduces the concept of community wind, in which groups of people invest in large wind turbines that produce commercial quantities of electricity for sale to the grid. While a seemingly novel concept in North America, it is quite common in Denmark, Germany, and increasingly France. In community wind, farmers, small businesses, and groups of community-minded citizens band together to develop—for profit—“their” wind resources. It’s as if they’re saying, Renewable energy is far too important to be left to the electric utilities alone. We have a responsibility for our own future. We can and will develop our own wind resources for our own benefit and for the benefit of our communities. By proving that it can be done, Germans and Danes have served as models for us in North America.
All books, even small ones, require the help and cooperation of many people. I am thankful to the many wind turbine manufacturers worldwide who answered my frequent queries about their products, and to Mick Sagrillo, Hugh Piggott, Ian Woofenden, and Ken Starcher for their comments and insights on small wind turbine design.
And I am truly grateful to the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy and the people of Denmark for a fellowship to study the distributed use of wind energy in northwest Jutland.
The people of Ontario and the members of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association also deserve a special note of thanks for having the faith in themselves and their communities to support the development of the most progressive renewable energy policy in North America in more than two decades. Since Ontario launched its groundbreaking Standard Offer Contract program, a policy modeled after those in Denmark and Germany, the revolutionary idea has caught on throughout North America.
Soon, I hope, we’ll see communities across the continent clamoring for the right to connect their wind turbines to the grid—and their solar panels and biogas plants as well—and be paid a fair price for their electricity. Only then will we see the promise of renewable energy fulfilled.
God vind! (Good wind!)