Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Harnessing Wind

If you live in Toronto, or have visited the “big smoke” recently, I'm sure you've noticed the giant wind turbine at the lakeshore near the exhibition grounds.

It is currently the only large scale wind turbine in Toronto and the first of its kind in a North American city, generating enough electricity for 250 homes. Another turbine is being developed in Toronto's East Beaches.

To Think About This Week
Not all of us can fit a thirty foot wind turbine in our backyards. After all, not all of us have backyards (hardy har har). While some countries are stepping up on wind power generation (wind energy makes up 23% of electricity used in Denmark), homeowners too can get into the act….

Residential Wind Turbines (components and costs)
There are a number of types of wind turbines that home owners or businesses can purchase. Like solar, wind can feed into the grid or, in remote areas, off grid.

Turbines with Power Ratings of 300 Watts to 1 kW ($700 +)
These are user friendly turbines, typically sold at retail outlets. They can be mounted on a pipe two inches in diameter. Typically these turbine are used to charge batteries or for light seasonal loads. The lifespan ranges from 10 to 15 years depending on the turbine and climate. Appropriate for urban environments.

Turbines with Power Ratings above 1 kW to 30 kW ($4,600 +)
Suitable for large properties and rural settings. The turbine requires an 80 to 120 foot tower and someone who knows what they are doing to install it. Can lower electricity bills by 50 to 90 percent.

Regarding prices, the larger the turbine, the higher the capital cost, but the less it costs per kilowatt. Capital costs may include the turbine, tower, inverter, and shipping.

Wanna see what it looks like? Click here.

What’s the Big Deal?
Can you imagine if every household had a wind turbine? Think of the reduction in GHGs. Stress on the grid would dramatically reduce. Most would save a bundle on energy costs.

• Over its life, a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
• Can save up to 90% on your electricity bill.
• If your turbine produces more than your home needs, you can sell it to the utility.
• No batteries needed.
• Low maintenance and long lasting, operating completely automatically.
• You can recoup your investment within six to 15 years.
• Increases property value.
• You have some control over your energy, leaving you less vulnerable to unpredictable increases in utility rates and blackouts.
• Contrary to popular believe, turbines are not noisy and do not pose a serious threat to birds.

There are a few drawbacks:
• Capital costs are high.
• Requires an area that has some wind velocity.
• More powerful systems need some space.


Canadian Wind Energy Association

American Wind Energy Association

British Wind Energy Association

Getting Started




Financial Incentive Programs


The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)

BWEA – Funding for Renewable Energy

Stop Global Warming
More than 463,478 to date have signed up to stop global warming. Join us!

In the News

Green Bloggers

Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Alternative Energy Blog

1 comment:

Tom Gray said...

Excellent info, Cheryl--thanks for making it available!

Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association