Wind energy pros and cons

Alternative Energy

With the push to go green, also in micro markets, much has been made of wind power. Media outlets attentive to the wind energy development have focused attention on the industry and many homeowners have followed suit. Here we reflect on some wind energy pros and cons.

The emergence of many upstart wind companies has advertisers scrambling to gain the attention of would-be consumers in a relatively new market. To this point, advertising has focused mostly on a maximum “output figure.” This to a certain extent has confused consumers, many of which being new to wind energy.

To further confuse matters most companies are purposefully inflating these figures in an apparently deliberate attempt to mislead consumers. In our opinion, the maximum output figures of a wind generator most people are focusing on does very little to describe the efficiency of a particular unit.

That figure does little to relay a conceptual idea to the customer that is useful in making a decision on purchasing a wind generator. Maximum output figures of wind generators in many cases give a snapshot of an expected output at a given moment at the peak of a power curve.

In reality, a residential wind turbine in a particular area may not ever reach that output figure given or if it does it may do so rarely. If a wind generator reaches two thousand watts in 40 mph winds for instance that’s is wonderful, however, if it only started charging a system when the wind reached in excess of 20 mph that would make the unit useless in most area of the world for the majority of the time. Many wind generators do no reach desired “cut in points” until wind speeds reach 10-12 mph, though some technological progress has been achieved recently.

Therefore, much of the time the turbines are producing no energy. Consider the example of contrasting solar energy with wind power. With solar energy, one of the downfalls is that the panels can only provide energy for about 4-8 hours per day depending on the location. It logically follows that the ability to produce power in a larger window of time makes wind power seem appealing. Wind maps show that a majority of the wind zones in the USA and the world for that matter fall within an area where the wind is less than 10-12 mph on average.

Considering the majority of wind turbine kits on the market do not produce any power to speak of in wind lower than 10 mph it logically follows that concentrating on producing power in lower wind zones has much merit and a product that produces power in winds of 5 mph is more useful in more areas. In conclusion under the current advertising practices as described above if one consumer bought a wind turbine that was rated at one thousand watts and another buyer purchased a turbine that was advertised at 250 watts it is quite possible that the lower wattage turbine would output more power in a given period of time. See also this article on green living.

Advertising the maximum charge that a wind generator can create is more deceptive and unrealistic than anything else. Many products advertised with high power output have very little power output in normal and light winds. Something needs to be done to regulate power ratings to place wind generator rating at an equal footing and stop rewarding deceptive advertisers. Depending on your area the novice wind generator consumer can benefit greatly by focusing on efficient wind generator designs that can deliver a steady charge over long periods of time in low winds.