Choosing a small wind turbine for your station


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Maximize the efficiency of your energy usage

A Proven Engineering 2.5kW turbine mounted on a roof in Ashenden House, London.
<em>Image courtesy Proven Engineering</em>

A Proven Engineering 2.5kW turbine mounted on a roof in Ashenden House, London.
Image courtesy Proven Engineering

As I mentioned earlier, because electricity has been fairly easy to come by in most cases, there has been little incentive in years past to maximize the efficiency of its use in many cases. However, if your intention is to lower your energy consumption for not only economic reasons, but for other principles as well, it makes sense before doing anything else to work at using less power, by finding the simplest ways to cut back. In my experience in California in 2001 (during the statewide energy crisis) I noted that once the problem became top-of-mind for many people, 10 percent of energy usage could be eliminated with very little effort by doing things like turning lights off when a room was unoccupied; turning off TV sets that were not being watched; raising the set-points of air conditioners a few degrees, and so forth. The next steps are also simple, such as replacing incandescent lights with fluorescents, and installing more energy-efficient appliances. While these actions may seem more pertinent to home use, they apply to radio stations as well. Turn out lights; turn up the A/C unit; turn off computers and monitors when not in use.

Study the available wind resources

A Proven Engineering 6kW turbine in a field.
<em>Image courtesy Proven Engineering</em>

A Proven Engineering 6kW turbine in a field.
Image courtesy Proven Engineering

Not all locations are suitable for the generation of power from the wind. That's an unfortunate reality. Most likely you have an idea about how much the wind blows at your particular location. There are a couple of things to keep in mind though: First, the wind is stronger as you get higher above the ground, and so your feeling about how much the wind blows is probably wildly inaccurate. Secondly, even if the wind seems to be blowing all the time, likely the average speed is lower than you would guess; and finally, if the wind is too fast (like during a storm) you might be surprised to know that the wind generators will shut themselves down. Too much wind is not a good thing in this case. Visit www.nrel.gov/wind/resource_assessment.html; this site will give you a reasonable idea about the wind resource in your particular area. Look at the map to find the wind power class of the area you are interested in.

Pick a system that meets your needs

Implicit in that statement is that you know what your needs are after studying your historical power usage and then maximizing the efficiency of your power consumption. If you are in the process of developing a new site, you will have to do the engineering to make the best estimate of your future needs. Then comes the next question: Just what power resource are you looking for? Will your new site be completely off the power grid (like a mountain top with no power lines, and too far for them to be constructed)? Do you want to use a wind generator to supplement a photo-voltaic (PV) system, for battery charging perhaps? Or maybe you simply want to generate electricity to reduce your reliance upon your current electricity source. Any of these three needs can be accommodated.



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