Posting in Energy
Utility-scale wind farms that contain hundreds of towering turbines might be more visible, but their Lilliputian brethren are gaining market ground.
Wind farms that contain hundreds of towering turbines spread out over vast tracts of land certainly are the most visible sector of the industry. But its Lilliputian brethren -- those small single turbines used at homes, businesses and institutions -- are playing an increasingly important role, especially for the broader renewable distributed energy generation market.
Pike Research recently forecast the global market for small wind systems will more than double between 2010 and 2015, rising from $255 million to $634 million during that time thanks largely to government incentives and increased awareness about this alternative electrical power source.
The cleantech research firm said small wind system installed capacity will nearly triple to 152 megawatts in that same time period; and the average installed prices will decline to about $4,150 per kilowatt. The average installed price of small wind turbines in the United States is $5,430 per kilowatt, the New York Times reported in reference to a soon-to-be released American Wind Energy Association report.
The future of distributed generation
Those figures are tiny compared to the installed capacity of the utility-scale wind farms. In the U.S. alone, utility-scale wind power capacity surpassed 42,000 megawatts through the second quarter of 2011, according to the AWEA.
But the impact of small turbines reads differently within the fledgling world of renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG). Traditionally, large wind or solar farms sell their electricity to utilities, which then send it over transmission lines to power homes, commercial entities and businesses.
Small wind turbines -- and other RDEG technologies like residential solar panels -- contradict this traditional one-way power supply, Pike Research said. The small turbines can be used to generate power to buildings off the grid. They also can offset high electricity prices to homes and commercial structures that are connected to the grid.
Pike Research expects renewable distributed energy generation to gain traction, especially in places with China and India that have growing economies with large populations without access to electricity.
Small wind turbines are more efficient than solar photovoltaic systems and the payback period is five to 10 years in a region with adequate wind resources, according to senior analyst Peter Asmus. Still, small wind turbines aren't popping up on every block. Instead, they're concentrated to areas that have with adequate wind resources, high electricity prices and some kind of financial incentive.
Photo: Flickr user tswind
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Even in the 50's after REA electrification came through, my grandparents still had a 24 volt backup system (windmill/lead-acid batteries) and low voltage lamps and some appliances. Our water was wind pumped. It all worked fine and was easily maintained.
Not new! You see them all through the mid west sixty years ago . I think thay are called Airo moters.
Good post. In the early days when there was not much electrification water pumping windmills and wind battery chargers were in much use. Mongolia has over 100,000 wind chargers. In Lasithi (Greece)at a single place I saw 10,000 water pumping windmills. Cento la Gaviotas,Bogota,Colombia also has many small windmills manufactured. Australia had thousands of water pumping wind mills. Especially vertical axis wind turbines are easy to fabricate and costs less. I designed a Savonius Wind Rotor with concentrator to operate in low to medium winds which costs one thirds of commercial wind chargers in India. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Wind Energy Expert E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Great to hear. Savonius Rotors are not only cheap, easy to build, and able to operate in low winds; they're also quiet, harmless to birds, and not bothered by the turbulence around houses. These qualities make them excellent for small wind power installations.