From an article submitted by Focus on Energy and published in the Wausau Daily Herald:
Small systems an attainable way to generate renewable energy
For more than 1,000 years, we have been harnessing the power of wind to sail boats, pump water and grind grain. As time passed, new uses for wind power evolved and today it is used to generate clean renewable power for homes, businesses, farms and schools.
And demand for this clean power is growing as Focus on Energy co-funded small wind turbine installations are expected to more than double in 2009 compared with 2008.
Wind turbines have become an important technology in the search for a renewable way to generate electricity. And as this technology improves, a growing number of Wisconsin residents and businesses are investing their time and resources into this industry. In many of these cases, small wind turbines make the most sense.
A small wind turbine has a rated capacity of 100 kilowatts, or kW, or less. These systems work when wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity.
The electricity output of a wind turbine depends on its size and the wind's speed through the rotor. As wind speed increases, the energy produced increases exponentially. For example, a 10 percent increase in average annual wind speed from 10 mph to 11 mph can result in a 33 percent increase in total electricity production.
"A 10 kW wind turbine can generate about 10,000 to 16,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, a bit more than the amount of electricity a typical household uses," said Rich Hasselman, small wind technical lead for Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy.