Kathie's Question of the day: what's up with small wind?

As many of you probably know, AWEA's Small and Community Wind Conference and Expo is going on in Portland, Oregon. I read this entry by a blogger who is at the conference and found her thoughts interesting and....question worthy!

She notes that commercial wind farms sprouting up around Oregon have sparked opposition from neighbors. Instead, she links to evidence that smaller projects are more cost effective. She also says small projects are easier to site, therefore reducing the need for transmission.

The blogger also makes an interesting point as she wonders if countries that used to rely on timber revenue and are looking for new revenue sources have considered small wind.

I'll leave you with the questions she leaves:

How can small wind projects fill in for our energy needs? Should we stop building big farms and start focusing on smaller ones where they're needed most?

-Kathie Zipp is Associate Editor of Wind/Solarpower Engineering

Learn more about small wind at Small Wind Tips

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Comment by H. Geiser on December 9, 2010 at 8:23pm

Kathie, I don't know if I read this right, but it seems to me, that what is discussed here is not "small wind", but small wind-farms, boosting "only" 5 - 20 MW, which can be achieved with 1 to 4 biggies (single 5 MW turbines)

In order to talk about small wind, we would have to consider turbines with an output of -let's say- 20 to 250 kW, so in order to get the 20 MW you would have to "plant" between #20 to #80 250 kW turbines, or am I wrong?

IMHO, small wind makes much sense for smaller communities than utility scale for multiple reasons;

1) Cost : e.g. #4 250kW turbines cost less than #1 1MW 

2) Redundancy: if the 1MW turbine has a technical problem, all of the 1MW is lost or at least temporary unavailable, but it would be most unlikely to lose all 4 250 kW turbines at the same time, so you would retain 75% of the power versus losing all of the 1 MW.

3) Siting : The single 1 MW would be at a single site, therefore be dependent on the wind-flow at the specific site - 4 250 kW turbines could be located at 4 different sites, therefore could be taking advantage of changing wind-flow and combined generate a more continuous power-pattern.

4) Servicing: due to the smaller scale, servicing should / can be overall less costly (smaller equipment etc.)

5) Shorter transmission lines.


Just something to stirr some thoughts :-)




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