Wind: Doin' It Yourself

So there are some problems with wind farms - nothing horrible enough to justify never using the technology again (like, say, the coal ash and dirty emissions of coal plants - but never mind that!), but there are definitely some drawbacks.

So hey, why not say screw the farm and just set up a wind turbine in your backyard?

Well, sure! There are a few companies in North American and European countries who offer small 1-10 kW wind turbines for home installation. And they're pretty nifty - if the turbine generates more electricity than you're using, then it automatically sells it to the electric company (I assume that it powers a bit of your neighbors home or something from there; one hopes, at least). In the ideal circumstances, they can pay for themselves by seriously reducing your power bill.

But - lest I be considered a corporate shill instead of the honest, upstanding guy that I am - what do we really mean by ideal?

First, you need frequent wind speeds over 10 mph, or you won't generate much electricity. Second, you need to spend between 10,000 and 70,000 (depending on size and degree of installation you choose). Third, you need to not live in a city or suburb.

Unfortunately, this decade is the first time in human history where the majority of us do live in a city or suburb, so that probably comes as poor consolation for most of us (especially the apartment dwellers like me).

But if you do live outside of a dense community, get yourself some damn wind power! They (that is, corporate America - capable of Good as well as Evil!) are developing some pretty awesome quiet technology and models. And I haven't even mentioned the best part yet.

If you do decide to splash out for some wind power (and people who get the right amount of wind and live in the country say they pay for themselves in 6-15 years, depending on wind/power useage/luck), chances are good that you can pick up a tax credit from either your state government or local utility companies. Basically, wind power is so cool (in a preventing-global-warming sense) that people are trying to help you get some. So go get some.

Plus, although I'm sketchy on the details at the moment, I do know that Obama's stimulus plan (that just passed the House) includes some hefty spending intended to encourage renewable energy, so it's possible that that'll only sweeten the pot. So to speak.

If that doesn't sound cool to you, though, you can always try to build your own wind turbine. Although it could be a fun project, it probably won't cut your power bill by much - it's taken some hefty R&D to make wind even close to competitive. If you do check this out, though, don't go for the guide marketed by Earth4Energy or any of their legions of people getting a 75% commission to sell it you - they're on the wrong side of the scam line, at least as far as their advertising is concerned.

Now, with all that outta the way, we're almost done with the week(ish) of Wind power here at 450-by-2050 - look for a conclusionary post after we talk about some unfortunate wild-life.

1 comment:

  1. The science club at Hood River High School has built its own wind turbine that is installed and producing wind for the school (See the story at the Portland Oregonian's website OregonLive.com: http://photos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2009/01/the_hood_river_valley_high_sch_1.html)

    Small scale turbines could be very useful in the right windy settings.