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Wind Energy in Redding and Shasta County, Ca

Wind energy produces electricity without generating pollutants or greenhouse gases and requires no disturbance to the natural environment.  It is located in areas that have a high average wind speed and the amount of energy potential from wind energy could produce 20% of Californias energy by the year 2020.  Utilizing wind energy is a key component of making our country energy independent.  It is also environmentally safe.

Wind energy is actually a converted form of solar energy. The sun's radiation heats different areas of the earth at different rates-especially during the day and night, but also when land and water absorb daytime heat at different rates.  The temperature differentials between the two gradients create wind.  Hot air rises and expands and cool air moves towards hotter areas creating wind.  Air has mass and when it is moving, it can perform work on machines that convert that energy to electricy which we use to power our homes and businesses.

How much electricity do you need to run your home?

The power generated by wind turbine is measured in watts.  Since watts are such a small unit of measure, the output is often measured in kilowatts (kw - 1000 watts) and megawatts (MW - 1 million watts).  Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour means one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50-watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour).

The average home uses from 1000-1500kw of electricity per month.  Some people in high wind areas will install a wind turbine large enough to power the entire home.  In many area in Calilfornia, the rate charge by the power company increases as you use more power.  In some cases the economics of installing a wind energy system are driving by the higher cost of electricty during times of peak usage.  People may choose to install a system that will get rid of just the high portion of their electric bill.  This may save money because you put a smaller system in and the payback is quicker because the money you're saving is at a much higher rate than the base rate. 

The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed through the rotor. Wind turbines being manufactured now have power ratings ranging from 250 watts to 5 megawatts (MW).

Example: A 10-kW wind turbine can generate about 10,000 kWh annually at a site with wind speeds averaging 12 miles per hour, or about enough to power a typical household. A 5-MW turbine can produce more than 15 million kWh in a year--enough to power more than 1, 400 households. The average U.S. household consumes about 10,000 kWh of electricity each year.

Example: A 250-kW turbine installed at the elementary school in Spirit Lake, Iowa, provides an average of 350,000 kWh of electricity per year, more than is necessary for the 53,000-square-foot school. Excess electricity fed into the local utility system earned the school $25,000 in its first five years of operation. The school uses electricity from the utility at times when the wind does not blow. This project has been so successful that the Spirit Lake school district has since installed a second turbine with a capacity of 750 kW. (For further information on this project, see at the Web site of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.)

More reading:
Where Does Wind Energy Come From?” This link contains a good description of the forces and factors involved that drive the circulation of winds around the planet. 

Wind energy systems transforms kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical and electrical energy that can be harnessed by mankind for our daily use.  Wind electric systems generate electricity for homes, businesses and for sale to independent power companies or to the government.  Historically, wind energy was most commonly used for pumping water in remote and rural area. 

What Kind of Wind Energy Systems are there?

Types of Wind Energy TurbinesThere are two kinds of wind electric generators,  turbines: vertical-axis, also known as "egg beater" style and horizontal-axis windmills. Horizontal-axis windmills are the most common today, making up nearly all of the utility grade turbines in the global market.

 

 

Turbine subsystems include:

  • a rotor, or blades, which convert the wind's energy into rotational shaft energy;
  • a nacelle (enclosure) containing a drive train, usually including a gearbox* and a generator;
  • a tower, to support the rotor and drive train; and
  • electronic equipment such as controls, electrical cables, ground support equipment, and interconnection equipment.

*Some turbines do not require a gearbox

The electricity generated by a utility-scale wind turbine is normally collected and fed into utility power lines, where it is mixed with electricity from other power plants and delivered to utility customers. Today (August 2005), turbines with capacities as large as 5,000 kW (5 MW) are being tested. 

More reading:
Wind Energy—How Does It Work?  is a fact sheet that gives additional basic information about wind energy in the U.S.  More information about "How Wind Energy Works" can be found at: Wind Energy Technology .

How big are energy producing windmills?

Residential Size

Utility Size

Small wind turbines used in residential or small business use are small. Most have rotor diameters of 24 feet or less and are mounted on towers of 120 feet or less.  They can be installed relatively quickly and your wind mill contractor can have your energy either feed batteries at your home or business and or they can hook it up directly to the Utility meter so that the excess power is returned to the grid and your account is credited.  For more information on how the power is metered and how you will save money follow these popular links to more information:

Utility size wind turbines used in wind farms come in various sizes.  The rotars can be from 150 feet to almost 300 feet in diameter and the height can be over 400 feet tall.  Some utility companies are installing wind turbines along the coastlines in the water because the wind near the shorelines are often perfect for power generation.

Do I have enough wind to power my house?

Wind speed is a crucial element in projecting turbine performance, and a site's wind speed is measured through wind resource assessment prior to a wind system's construction. Another important factor is how often the wind blows.  Generally, an annual average wind speed greater than four meters per second (m/s) (9 mph) is required for small wind electric turbines (less wind is required for water-pumping operations). Utility-scale wind power plants require minimum average wind speeds of 6 m/s (13 mph).

To determine if you have enough wind to justify the cost of a wind energy system you should acquire a "Wind Monitof" data logger.  This is a device that is either free standing outside of your house or on top of your house that records the amount of wind at your location.  There are also models available that you can connect to your computer that will log the data and generate reports and graphs about the amount of wind in your area.  For more information visit these links:

Wind Monitor II data Logger      Wind Monitor    

More Fun Links on Wind Power -   History of Wind Turbines - Watch the Video - We Can Do this

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Redding, CA 96002
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