Application of Wind Energy: Wind Resources

 
 
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 Wind potential
In order for a wind energy system to be feasible there must be an adequate wind supply. A wind energy system usually requires an average annual wind speed of at least 15 km/h. The following table represents a guideline of different wind speeds and their potential in producing electricity.

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Average Wind Speed
km/h (mph)
Suitability
Up to 15 (9.5)
No good
18 (11.25)
Poor
22 (13.75)
Moderate
25 (15.5)
Good
29 (18)
Excellent

Air is denser in the winter than in the summer. Therefore, a wind generator will produce more power in the winter than in summer at the same wind speed. At high altitudes, (in mountains) the air pressure is lower so the air is less dense. The wind energy potential is less at the higher attitudes.

Location
The wind speed is the most important factor influencing the amount of energy a wind turbine can produce. Increasing wind velocity increases the amount of air passing the rotor, which increases the output of the wind system.

In order for a wind system to be effective, a relatively consistent wind flow is required. Obstructions such as trees or hills can interfere with the wind supply to the rotors. To avoid this, rotors are placed on top of towers to take advantage of the strong winds available high above the ground. The towers are generally placed 100 metres away from the nearest obstacle. The middle of the rotor is placed 10 metres above any obstacle that is within 100 metres.

Economics
There are a number of different turbine companies a person can consider. The common range of turbines that can be found on farms is one to twenty kilowatt systems. The following list shows the price range of these turbines and towers. Depending on the company, the turbine and tower may be sold together or as separate pieces.

These prices were converted from American to Canadian dollars and are the average price for the turbine and tower (24 metres). Additional costs include shipping, installation, wire, battery back up (if required), possible inverter, manpower, and electrician. The table shows the general cost per kilowatt for the different size turbines.

Turbine Size
(kW)
Turbine and Tower
($)
Cost
($/kW)
1
4,600
4,600
7.5
30,600
4,080
10
38,040
3,800
15
40,000
2,670
20
41,700
2,085

Cost per kilowatt
A general rule of thumb, the larger the turbine the less it costs per kilowatt but the higher the capital cost. A 600 kW system costs $1,000,000 or $1,700 per kilowatt.

For example, a Bergey 1 kW 24VDC wind turbine costs ~$5,600 per kilowatt which includes most accessories.

Turbine
    • Power Centre
$2,670
Tower – 9 metres
    • tower sections and associated hardware
    • guy anchors, guy wires, and associated hardware
    • gin pole
$770
Inverter (24V input, 1.5 kW, 120 V, 60 Hz)$1,540
Shipping (from US to Lethbridge)$630
Maintenance
    • There is only 3 moving parts
    • After first 2 years
    • 2 hour check over (fasteners, etc)
    • Every 5-7 years
    • 6 hour check over (bearings, grease, etc)
    • If greasing is necessary, it can be easily done. It is not required for 5 years, if a quality grease is used.
$0
Installation
    • Can be easily done with a couple of people. Everything is included.
$0

The distribution wire was not included in the cost.

Companies
The following is a list of some small wind turbine companies in North America:

Atlantic Orient Corphttp://www.atlanticorientcanada.ca
Bergey Windpower Co.http://www.bergey.com
Southwest Windpowerhttp://www.windenergy.com
Wind Turbine Industrieshttp://www.windturbine.net

For More Information
Lund, Kelly
Agricultural Technologies Section
Agriculture and Rural Development
3rd fl JG O'Donoghue Building
7000 - 113 Street
Edmonton, AB
T6H 5T6

Phone: 780 644-1197
Fax: 780 422-9745

 
 
 
 
For more information about the content of this document, contact Kelly Lund.
This document is maintained by Marlene Friesen.
This information published to the web on June 6, 2002.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 29, 2014.