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FAQ - Generating Power

Environment. Wind energy is non-polluting, and reduces the demand for higher-impact electricity from thermal stations (e.g. oil, natural gas, coal), hydroelectric dams and nuclear generators. Energy Independence. Wind turbine systems can assist you in gaining more independence from your local utility. They can also make you less susceptible to power interruptions from the grid. Cost. Wind energy systems are one of the most cost-effective home-based renewable energy systems. Depending on your wind resource, a small wind energy system can lower your electricity bill by up to 100%. They can also help you avoid rising and volatile electricity prices. Remote Electricity Generation. If you are at a distance from existing grid lines, generating your own electricity helps you avoid the high costs of having utility power line extensions. Complements Solar PV. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems generate more electricity when there are more hours of sunshine and higher intensity sunshine (i.e. during the summer). Wind turbines generate more electricity when there are more hours of wind per day and higher intensity winds (i.e. during the winter). This makes wind an excellent complement to solar PV in a renewable electricity system.

Small wind turbines are very different than large wind turbines. Large turbines, often grouped in wind farms, are widely used by utilities across Canada to provide grid electricity. Although small wind turbines may look like ""miniature"" versions of these large turbines, they are actually very different. Compared to large wind, small wind involves different: Purchase decisions. The decision to install a large wind turbine is largely based on financial considerations such as return on investment and payback. In contrast, the decision to install a small wind turbine can be based on a wide variety of factors including energy independence, energy price stability and a desire to make a personal or corporate contribution to a cleaner environment. These ""soft"" components do not have a numerical value that figures into typical cost payback calculations. Value of generated electricity. ""Large wind"" generates electricity at the wholesale price while small wind systems offset utility supplied electricity at the retail price level. Note that in certain cases, small wind can produce power at less than half the cost of ""traditional"" electricity sources (e.g. northern or remote communities with diesel electric generators). Technology. Small wind turbines involve different materials and technologies, including the mechanisms for transferring energy. Installation requirement. Small wind installations involve different by-laws, tax treatment and local installation requirements than large wind. There are also differences in terms of the requirements for wind studies and environmental assessments. Detailed information on large wind turbines can be found on the main CanWEA site.

Net metering refers to the ability, in some countries, to reverse your meter by putting power onto the national grid as opposed to drawing electricity, which is what the meter is there to monitor. In effect, it is selling power back to the utility company. Some homeowners install a hybrid system, including solar, hydro and wind that supplements supply from the grid, diverting any extra power onto the grid when the system runs in excess of demand.?

Yes. Different size stations supply the base and peak loads. The larger stations (usually coal burning and nuclear) take a greater amount of time to vary their output, whilst smaller power stations are able to be more responsive to fluctuations. Thus, large power stations typically supply the base load on the national grid. Peak load is supplied by the smaller stations that quickly react to changing demand. This considered, you should consider supplementing your own contribution to peak load through wind energy.

The load is the total amount of energy that is moving on the national grid at a given point in time. The base load is usually the minimum amount of energy on the grid, and supply does not go below this point as it is the basic required amount of electricity. Whilst peak load refers to the fluctuations of electricity use over time. Electricity fluctuates daily and seasonally.

The national grid is the supply channel of electricity to points of demand, it does not store electricity in anyway. For this reason, supply on the grid must match demand.

It is cheaper, at the moment, to save electricity relative to the cost of the initial investment of generating one's own. Up to date figures on cost saving may be found on the Energy Savings Trust site. However, when considering the cost to the environment and climatic change it is necessary to utilise different and renewable energy sources.

Wind turbines are incredibly efficient as all the fuel used to generate energy, namely wind, is free and abundant. However, productivity is limited by Betz Law. This law states that power extracted from the wind may never exceed 59% of its potential power. Higher productivity levels are more beneficial as they create cost effectiveness.

The speed of wind in a particular area varies over time. If all these variations are recorded over one year, the values have one value that is a central point. This is the annual average or mean speed. We use this as an indicator of the amount of wind energy available.

Wind power is extracted by stopping the wind. This concept is demonstrated to us in its exaggerated state ie. blowing over a wall. By extracting the power that wind exerts we create usable energy. Theoretically air moving at 40 kilometres per hour over one square metre has 400 watts of power to exert, on the condition that it is stopped.

Wind turbines produce electricity all the time, that the wind is blowing. The wind blows, on average, 75 to 85 percent of the year. The production of electricity is consistent, however the levels of output vary with the windspeed.?

This means that coal powered stations must increase their output to compensate for an increasing need for back-up power, increasing carbon emissions and counteracting the renewable energy output of a wind turbines. Is this true? There is no validity to this argument. There is constantly back-up on national grids, due to the sharp variations in short-term demand for electricity because of unforeseen weather changes or national events. Only minor levels of back-up are required for wind turbines and these do not necessarily come from coal powered stations as the range of energy creation plants increases. Also, the efficiency of the technology used in wind turbine systems has decreased the reliance on back-up power.

Although winds are variable and an auxiliary electricity source is recommended for battery charging in low periods of wind, if output and usage is carefully managed by understanding the wind prevalence in the area, this is not necessary. If, hypothetically, wind turbines will be generating electricity 80% of the year in a particular area and only achieving maximum output over the winter months (35% of the year), this must affect the size of turbine being purchased.

The wind is free and wind power will reduce your electricity bill after the cost of the wind turbine has been covered, this is referred to as the pay back period. Although there is a cost to bear, initially, there are grants, energy certifications and subsidies that reduce the pay back period significantly and allow you to begin saving money and carbon emissions. Wind energy is also one of the cheapest of the renewable energy production technologies, making it suitable for individual investment?

Also known as a green tag or credit, renewable energy certificate or credit (REC)and renewable obligation certificate (ROC). It is a system that certifies each megawatt-hour of renewable energy generated. This certificate is a sellable commodity, internationally. It allows countries, businesses or individuals access to green power even if it is not locally produced.

Wind turbines generate 100% of the time when they are not shut down for maintenance or repairs and the wind is between about 3 and 14 m/s. Below 5 m/s the amount of energy generated is below the average rate of generation. Generally, wind turbines produce above their average rate one-third of the time.?

Wind turbines produce energy over a specific wind speed range at a particular capacity. Small wind turbines usually produce energy between two to 15 metres per second. At the top of the wind speed range the turbine produces energy at its maximum capacity. Energy production decreases with wind speed. The ratio is simple, if wind speed doubles the power output increases by a factor of eight.?

A wind turbine's ability to produce power is determined by its efficiency in capturing energy from the wind through the blades and converting that energy into rotational torque that turns the generator. The generator is the component that pushes electrical energy onto the system. The height of the tower allows the turbine to access stronger steadier winds, whilst the blade size determines the turbine's effectiveness in capturing wind energy. At a constant wind speed, smaller blades capture less than larger blades.

Watts measure the capacity of wind turbines to produce electrical power. A thousand watts equal one kilowatt and a thousand kilowatts equal one megawatt. Watt-hours measure the actual production of power over time, known as energy. Production of power at a rate of one megawatt for one hour equals one megawatt-hour of energy.

A grid-connected system refers to a system where a turbine generates on a system that is connected to the national electricity supply grid, which than supplements the electricity supply or any surplus turbine generated energy is put on the grid. A stand-alone system cannot do this, as it is not connected to the national grid.

Yes, everyone has enough ""good"" wind to use a turbine. It is a scientific fact that wind speed increases proportionately to increase of height above ground. Simply, the higher you go the faster the wind becomes. This is because by going up, one is avoiding ground drag which increases performance. You can test optimal height for yourself, find a kite with an old fashioned tail, the tail will show you the air turbulence at a particular height. The least air turbulence is best because there is less variation.