Wind Power vs. Solar Power
Our experience working with solar and wind power systems in the continental divide region has taught us that solar power can sometimes be more efficient than wind power. Given the lower temperatures and higher insolation (strength of the sun) we experience, PV systems produce more instantaneous power than predicted! Wind turbines perform best in consistent wind speeds. In the high country, we see both lower atmospheric density (less power to push the blades of the turbine) and turbulent, shifty winds that not only decrease efficiency, but also create excessive wear and tear on the turbine. Plus, determining a good wind site can be difficult to do. If you have a relatively open solar window in this area we can very accurately predict the power production of a PV system. Properly analyzing a good wind site requires the installation of a wind measuring device and the collection of a few months worth of data. Read more on wind site feasibility below.
Designing for Wind Power
Wind power generation is very site specific or micro-climate dependant. Turbine size, type, and height are determined by the characteristics of the site. There are many types of wind turbines but most turbines are rated by the energy they produce in a 28 mile per hour wind. There are horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) and vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs). Over the years, we have installed and/or serviced many different types and sizes of turbines.
Small scale turbines are usually selected for residential use. Small scale turbines produce electricity in the 500 watt to 10 kilowatt range. Tower heights rarely exceed 100 feet for these turbines. It is suggested that the rotor be about 20 feet higher than any nearby obstructions (i.e. buildings and trees). Wind power can provide DC power to charge an off-grid power system and can also provide AC power for utility interconnected systems. It is always a good idea to quantify the wind resource in order to calculate energy production estimates. However, there may be an immediate need and as long as we know the area is 'windy' this may be enough of a reason to install a wind turbine. Wind also compliments solar well in off-grid applications to create one hybrid system.
Currently, only roof mounted VAWTs that meet certain guidelines can be installed in Summit County.
Large scale turbines, in the 100 kilowatt range and up, can be used to create large amounts of green energy and can be very economical. Unlike solar PV energy, the price of a watt of installed wind power decreases as the scale of the turbine increases. These systems require space and are typically subject to scrutiny by neighbors and local municipalities. We are able to work on a consulting basis or as a partner to get this type of system into operation.