How to Overcome the Difficulties of Small Scale Wind Turbines

How to Overcome the Difficulties of Small Scale Wind Turbines

How to Overcome the Difficulties of Small Scale Wind Turbines

As someone interested in utilizing small scale wind turbines, I know there can be challenges and difficulties that come with implementing this renewable energy source. Through my own experience and research, I have learned strategies to overcome the common difficulties of small wind turbines.

Selecting the Right Location

Choosing an appropriate location is crucial for small wind turbines to operate efficiently. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a location:

  • Wind Speed – A minimum average wind speed of 10 mph is recommended. Higher wind speeds of 13-15 mph are ideal. Use a home anemometer for 1-2 years to measure your exact wind speeds.

  • Turbulence – Avoid turbulent locations like behind buildings or on the tops of hills. Turbulence can put excessive stress on turbine components.

  • Obstructions – Position your turbine at least 30 feet above any obstructions within 300 feet. Obstructions like trees or buildings will create turbulence.

  • Accessibility – Choose a site that allows easy access for maintenance and repairs. This will reduce costs and downtime over the turbine’s life.

  • Proximity – Locate the turbine close to where you will use the electricity to minimize transmission losses.

Properly Sizing the Turbine

Choosing the right size turbine is key for efficiency and cost effectiveness. Here are some tips:

  • Consider your average wind speeds and choose a turbine accordingly. Higher wind areas allow smaller turbines.

  • Gauge your energy needs. A small 1 kW turbine can offset 10-20% of an average household’s supply.

  • Bigger is not always better. Oversizing decreases efficiency and increases wear on components.

  • Work with a qualified installer to determine the optimum size based on your situation.

Managing Grid Interconnection

Connecting a small wind turbine to the electric grid can be complex. Here are some recommendations:

  • Consult with your utility company early in the process. They can provide guidelines and requirements.

  • Most utilities require an interconnection agreement outlining technical specifications.

  • For systems under 10 kW, utilities often allow net metering to offset your costs. Confirm policies with your provider.

  • Grid-tied systems require an inverter to convert power from DC to AC. Work closely with your installer to size and select the right inverter.

  • Consider technical complications like dealing with backflow of electricity at night. Grid-tied safety features are essential.

Handling Maintenance and Repairs

Like any complex electromechanical system, small wind turbines require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. Here are some proven strategies:

  • Create a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Common tasks are checking fluids and tightening fasteners.

  • Inspect blades and check for cracks or damage. Repair any minor issues promptly.

  • Have a stock of spare parts like filters and belts. Downtime is reduced if parts are readily available.

  • Establish a relationship with a qualified technician. They can handle major repairs quickly and correctly.

  • For gearbox issues, replacement is often better than repairing. Keep this in mind for cost planning.

Integrating Energy Storage

Adding energy storage like batteries is an excellent way to get the most from your small wind turbine. Here are guidelines:

  • Energy storage allows you to save excess power generated on windy days for use later. This reduces waste.

  • Carefully calculate your storage capacity needs based on turbine size, energy use, costs, etc. Oversizing is expensive.

  • Keep batteries maintained and charged to extend their useful life as long as possible.

  • Use deep cycle batteries designed for extensive charge/discharge. Automotive batteries are not ideal.

  • Work with an expert to ensure proper integration of the storage system with your wind turbine.

Understanding the Economics

There are real costs to factor in when investing in a small wind turbine. However, there are ways to improve the economics:

  • Factor in all system costs: turbine, site prep, installation, interconnection, maintenance, etc. Get multiple quotes.

  • Many states offer incentives like rebates or tax credits to offset costs. Research programs in your region.

  • While not cheap, costs have decreased in recent years for residential wind systems.

  • Focus on long-term benefits. Electricity costs savings over 20-30 years can offset large upfront costs.

  • Consider combining wind with solar. Hybrid renewable energy systems maximize efficiency and savings.

With proper planning and preparation, the difficulties of small wind turbines can be overcome. Carefully evaluating your unique situation and needs will help ensure your small wind project is successful and cost-effective. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!