The Power and Potential of
the Wind one of the power resources of the future
o How much energy is in the wind and how to
get it out Wind is a very complex process which can be described
The sun heats the earth at different rates depending
on whether an area is below clouds, in direct sunlight, or
covered with water. The air above the warmer areas heats up,
becomes less dense, and rises. The rising air creates a low
pressure area. Cooler air from adjacent higher pressure areas
moves to the low pressure areas. This air movement is wind.
People have been capturing the energy contained
in the wind's movement for hundreds of years. Dutch-style
windmills were first used in the 12th Century, and by the
1700s, had become a major source of power in Europe. In North
America, farmers adopted windmill technology to pump water
about a hundred years ago.
Today, the turning rotors of a wind energy system
can still be used to run pumps, and to run a generator to
The wind is a renewable energy source, continuously
generated or replenished by the forces of nature. Renewable
energy technologies, such as wind energy systems and solar
photovoltaic (PV) systems, which use sunlight, convert renewable
resources into usable forms of energy that can complement
or replace conventional energy sources.
Canada is a large country with a huge wind energy
potential. Tapping into this potential will help decrease
the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by conventional sources
Modern large wind energy installations are popping
up across the Canadian landscape. These "wind farms"
use an array of wind turbines, each generating around 600
kilowatts, and are hooked to the main electrical grid. While
this is a promising technology, it would still take 1,500
of these large turbines to match the output of one CANDU reactor.
On the other hand, if replacing an oil or coal generator,
just one of these turbines could eliminate over 1,000 tonnes
of carbon emissions per year.
This guide is aimed at those who are considering
a wind energy system to supply energy to their homes, farms,
cottages or businesses. In most cases, such small systems
have capacities in the 100 watt to 25 kilowatt range.
At the low end of this scale, enough electricity
is generated to run a few lights, a communications radio or
entertainment equipment. At the higher end, many of the electrical
needs of farm operations or institutional buildings could
be met. Somewhat larger systems could also supplement municipal
needs and supply power to remote communities.
While the tested technology of direct mechanical
work, such as pumping water, will be touched upon in this
guide, we will focus on electrical generation.
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Wind Energy Teach...build...learn...renewable
energy! A Renewable Energy Project Kit The Pembina
The sun has a lot to do with creating winds. Winds above continents
and oceans occur because of temperature differences around
the world. Some places, especially those near the Equator,
receive far more direct sunlight than those closer to the
Earths north and south poles. As a result, the air over
these areas warms up and then rises. Cooler air from the surrounding
area rushes in to fill the space left by the rising air, creating
a surface wind.
Air is constantly on the move. In some places,
especially along coastlines and in mountains, it provides
a highly reliable source of mechanical energy. Humans have
invented an amazing array of devices that can harness the
energy of the wind and put it to practical use.
Sails One of the oldest uses of wind energy is transportation.
The first primitive sails were probably made from woven mats
held aloft by wooden poles or human hands. Modern sailboats
have very efficient sails and masts constructed from strong,
lightweight materials such as Kevlar (the material used in
bulletproof vests) and titanium. They work like aircraft wings
to generate forces that pull the boat in the desired direction.
Pumping and Grinding Long before the invention of electricity,
early wind turbines did very useful work.
Windmills were used in many places in Europe over the last
several centuries to turn heavy granite disks called millstones.
The millstones were used to crush dry grains such as wheat,
barley, and corn to make flour or meal.
The Netherlands is famous for its windmills.
In truth, most of these structures are not mills at all,but
water pumps. The Dutch created new farmland along the coast
by building dikes around low-lying estuaries and mudflats
and pumping out all the seawater. The windmills
provided a steady supply of mechanical energy to lift seawater
into the canals, allowing the new farmland to dry out. Surface
winds occur when sunwarmed air rises, and cooler air rushes
in to fi ll the space left behind. Windmills have been in
use in Europe for centuries. Capturing Wind Energy
In the past, windmills were common on farmsteads
across Canada. They were often used to pump water from wells
to watering troughs for cattle and to generate electricity
at the farmhouse. When rural areas finally received electricity,
many of these windmills fell into disuse and disrepair. Recently
however, small windmills are becoming popular once again for
bringing water to livestock.
One of the most popular uses of wind turbines is to generate
electricity. To make electricity, the shaft of the turbine
must be connected to an electrical generator. Through gearboxes,
the generator converts the mechanical energy of the spinning
turbine shaft into electricity. Generators are small and light
enough that they can be housed under an aerodynamically designed
cover at the top of the pole or tower. Wires running down
the tower carry electricity to the grid, batteries or other
appliances, where it is stored, and/or used. Electricity is
now being generated on a commercial scale at large installations
called wind farms in severalplaces around the
world. Wind farms consist ofrows of towers, sometimes 90 metres
high, equipped with giant wind turbines for producing electricity.
In Canada, the first commercial wind farm was built in southern
Alberta near the town of Cowley, in a region famous for its
strong, steady winds. Commercial wind farms have also been
established in Germany, Denmark, the United States, Spain
and India. Denmark and Germany have pioneered the development
of commercial wind power, one of their fastest-growing industries.
Wind turbines are gaining popularity with cattle ranchers
for watering their livestock.
Some companies are now installing wind farms
in shallow waters near coastlines in small countries with
little available land area. These offshore wind farms
are a promising new source of electricity. Toronto Hydro is
installing such a turbine offshore on Lake Ontario.
Commercial wind energy is one of the most economical
sources of new electricity available today. Wind turbines
can be set up quickly and cheaply compared with building new
coal-fired generating stations or hydroelectric facilities.
Modern wind generating equipment is efficient, highly reliable,
and becoming cheaper to purchase. The environmental impact
of large wind turbines is negligible compared with an open
pit coal mine or a reservoir, and during their operation produce
no air pollution. Because of these factors, wind energy is
recognized as the worlds fastest-growing new energy
source. Small, highly effi cient wind turbines are becoming
popular as a source of electricity for rural homes. The cost
of installing one comes close to that of putting up poles,
overhead power lines and other equipment necessary to connect
to the electrical grid. The advantage is that the homeowner
owns the generating equipment and is freed from paying monthly
How do I get a permit?
Getting a Building Permit
A wind turbine is a structure that requires a building permit.
Zoning regulations often limit the height, placement, and
other characteristics of "appurtenant" structures,
so a conditional (special) use permit or variance may be necessary.
It's usually best to let your neighbors know about your installation.
Be prepared to answer questions and clear up common misconceptions
with well-documented facts about small wind turbines.
" General Starting Information
" Conditional (Special) Use Permits
" Letting Your Neighbors Know: Tips for Public Hearings
" Useful Links
General Starting Information: Contact County Planning or Permitting
Find out what zoning regulations apply to appurtenant, or
non-dwelling, structures on your property. Ask if small wind
energy systems are specifically addressed by local ordinance,
and if so get a copy of the ordinance. You'll need to know
the permitting procedures and find out what documentation
is required for your turbine. You may have to submit a structural
plan drafted by an engineer, but documents from your turbine
manufacturer or dealer may be enough. (A checklist of common
permitting issues is available for California residents.)
Conditional (Special) Use Permits
If zoning rules list small or residential wind turbines as
an approved "conditional" or "special"
use for your property, you need only comply with the relevant
conditions -- which usually pertain to minimum lot size, maximum
tower height, setbacks, and electrical code compliance. The
manufacturer or dealer may be able to help with the documentation.
If small wind turbines are not an allowed use, you may have
to apply for a conditional use permit, which could involve
public hearings before you local planning board.
Check local land-use codes carefully for special zoning ordinances
that authorities may have overlooked. A turbine owner in California
avoided turbine tower height restrictions through a forgotten
wind energy zoning ordinance that had been passed decades
A zoning variance is a project-specific exception from existing
If the zoning code prohibits structures more than 35 feet,
tall, for example, a wind turbine will probably need a variance
from the rule unless special provisions have already been
inserted for wind energy systems. Local county or city planning
boards usually have to approve variances.
An application for a variance should cite the specific rule
and list reasons why a structure should be excepted. Height
restrictions are a common barrier for wind turbine applicants,
who often find height limits set at 35 feet because fire trucks
could not pump water higher than that when the code was written.
are now obsolete, but residents may nevertheless insist on
preserving them because they feel taller structures would
negatively alter the neighborhood's appearance. You should
be prepared to explain that the impact of your wind turbine
will be minimal. Take note of other tall structures neighbors
already accept: water towers, rooftop satellite dishes, cellular
communications towers, etc.
Letting Your Neighbors Know...Tips on Public Hearings
BE PREPARED to answer questions about your project, especially
if you have to appear at a public hearing seeking a conditional
use permit or variance (Conditional or special use permits
do not always require hearings, but a variance will). A hearing
may turn out to be a mere formality, but be ready for anything
that might come up. Here are some tips:
" Seek the support of your neighbors before the hearing.
See AWEA's "Sample Letters"
" Compile documented factual information to reassure
anyone worried about noise, visual impact, possible affects
on wildlife, and property values.
See AWEA's "Factsheets."
" Planning and zoning officials may be unfamiliar with
small wind energy systems, so be prepared to explain the basics.
It's helpful to have photographs of similar installations.
See AWEA's "Success Stories."
About Permitting Fees ...
Permitting requirements, procedures, and fees vary widely
among counties. Fees for building permits, use permits, zoning
permits, and "plot plans" can range from $400 to
$1,600. There may be other fees for public notification, hearings,
and environmental impact studies costing from a few hundred
to several thousand dollars.
Remember, if a fee seems inappropriate or excessive, you may
be able to get it reduced or waived. Find out what you are
being charged for and offer to provide documentation or information
that makes the fee unnecessary.
Some Useful Links
" Permitting Small Wind Turbines: Learning from the California
" Windmills and Zoning Boards site
" AWEA Zoning FAQ
" Small Wind Fact Sheet
Does Helix qualify for a Federal Tax Credit?
Current Status: A handful of states provide some incentives
for small wind, but the federal government has not provided
any assistance since 1985. The federal Production Tax Credit
(PTC) covers only large utility-scale wind projects, not individuals
who want to install their own wind power systems for on-site
power. In 2005, Congress passed an energy bill that included
an investment credit for residential solar energy applications,
but did not include small wind systems.
This year, identical bills were introduced in the Senate by
Sens. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) (bill number
S. 673), and in the House by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
and Tom Cole (R-OK) (bill number H.R. 1772), that would provide
$1,500 per ½ kilowatt of capacity for small wind systems.
This bills would make the credit available for 5 years for
all wind systems 100 kilowatts (kW) of capacity and under,
and there would be no cap on the amount of the credit granted
In addition to this tax credit, the bill would provide for:
" Carry-over of credit: In the event that using this
credit puts the consumer's taxable income below the minimum
threshold, this provision would allow the unusable excess
credit to be carried over to the next tax year. This would
essentially allow a consumer with a low annual income to take
full advantage of the credit.
" Accelerated depreciation of three years.
Current Legislation: S. 673 (Senate) and H.R. 1772 (House).
The bills would
create a small wind systems tax credit.
Take Action: Ask Congress to support a small wind systems
tax credit. You can help us make a difference. Click on the
Legislative Action website to send FREE messages to Congress.
Urge your Senators to cosponsor S. 673, and your Representative
to co-sponsor H.R. 1772 to create an investment tax credit
for small wind systems.
How does Net Metering work?
Q. What is net metering?
A. "Net-metering" is a simplified
method of metering the energy consumed and produced at a home
or business that has its own renewable energy generator, such
as a small wind turbine. Under net metering excess electricity
produced by the wind turbine will spin the existing home or
business electricity meter backwards, effectively banking
the electricity until it is needed by the customer. This provides
the customer with full retail value for all the electricity
produced. Without net metering the excess production is sold
to the utility at a much lower price. Under existing federal
law (PURPA, Section 210) utility customers can use the electricity
they generate with a wind turbine to supply their own lights
and appliances, offsetting electricity they would otherwise
have to purchase from the utility at the retail price. But
if the customer produces any excess electricity (beyond what
is needed to meet the customer's own needs), the utility purchases
that excess electricity at the wholesale or 'avoided cost'
price, which is much lower than the retail price. The excess
energy is metered using an additional meter that must be installed
at the customer's expense. Net metering simplifies this arrangement
by allowing the customer to use any excess electricity to
offset electricity used at other times during the billing
period. In other words, the customer is billed only for the
net energy consumed during the billing period.
Q. Why is net metering important?
A. There are three reasons net metering is important.
First, because wind energy is an intermittent resource, customers
may not be using power as it is being generated, and net metering
allows them to receive full value for the electricity they
produce without installing expensive battery storage systems.
This is important because it directly affects the economics
and pay-back period for the investment. Second, net-metering
reduces the installation costs for the customer by eliminating
the need for a second energy meter. Third, net metering provides
a simple, inexpensive, and easily-administered mechanism for
encouraging the use of small-scale wind energy systems, which
provide important local, national, and global benefits to
the environment and the economy.
Q. What are the benefits and costs of net
A. Net metering provides a variety of benefits
for both utilities and consumers. Utilities benefit by avoiding
the administrative and accounting costs of metering and purchasing
the small amounts of excess electricity produced by small-scale
wind energy facilities. Consumers benefit by getting greater
value for some of the electricity they generate and by being
able to interconnect with the utility using their existing
meter. The only cost associated with net metering is indirect:
the customer is buying less electricity from the utility,
which means the utility is collecting less revenue from the
customer. That's because any excess electricity that would
have been sold to the utility at the wholesale or 'avoided
cost' price is instead being used to offset electricity the
customer would have purchased at the retail price. In most
cases, the revenue loss is comparable to having the customer
reducing electricity use by investing in energy efficiency
measures, such as compact fluorescent lighting, efficient
heating and cooling equipment, or other highly-efficient appliances.
The bill savings for the customer (and corresponding revenue
loss to the utility) will depend on a variety of factors,
particularly the difference between the 'avoided cost' and
retail prices and the amount of excess electricity produced.
In general, however, the difference will be between $10-40
a month for a 10 kilowatt residential wind energy system.
Moreover, any utility revenue losses associated with net metering
are at least partially offset by administrative and accounting
savings, which are not included in the above figures. These
savings can exceed $25 a month because, absent net metering,
utilities have to separately process the accounts of customers
with wind turbines and issue the monthly checks. In practice,
these checks can be for as little as 5 cents.
Q. Can I really use my existing meter to
take advantage of net metering?
A. The standard kilowatt-hour meter used for
most residential and small commercial customers accurately
registers the flow of electricity in either direction. This
means the 'netting' process associated with net metering happens
automatically - the meter spins forward (in the normal direction)
when the customer needs more electricity than is being produced,
and spins backward when the customer is producing more electricity
than is needed in the home or building. The meter registers
the net amount of energy produced or consumed during the billing
Q. What is the current status of net metering?
A. Currently, 28 states require at least some
utilities to offer net metering for small wind systems, althoughthe
requirements vary from state to state. Most state net metering
rules were enacted by state utility regulators, and these
rules apply only to utilities whose rates and services are
regulated at the state level. In recent years many states
have enacted net metering laws legislatively, including California,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
In most of the states with net metering statutes, all utilities
are required to offer net metering for small wind systems.
To find out whether net metering is available in your location,
contact the American Wind Energy Association at the address
below, or go to the policy area of the AWEA web site, <www.awea.org/policy>
and follow the links regarding net metering.
source: Kathy Belyeu, American Wind Energy Association, (202)
How much does electricity cost?
The cost of electricity depends on where you live, how much
you use, and possibly when you use it. There are also fixed
charges that you pay every month no matter how much electricity
you use. For example, I pay $6/mo. for the privilege of being
a customer of the electric company, no matter how much energy
Check your utility bill for the rates in your area. If it's
not on your bill then look it up on the utility's website.
The electric company measures how much electricity you use
in kilowatt-hours, abbreviated kWh. Your bill might have multiple
charges per kWh (e.g., one for the "base rate",
another for "fuel") and you have to add them all
up to get the total cost per kWh.
Most utility companies charge a higher rate when you use more
than a certain amount of energy, and they also charge more
during summer months when electric use is higher. As an example,
here are the residential electric rates for Austin, Texas
(as of 11-03):
First 500 kilowatts 5.8¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh)
Additional kilowatts (May-Oct.) 10¢ per kilowatt hour
Additonal kilowatts (Nov.-Apr.) 8.3¢ per kilowatt hour
These figures include a fuel charge of 2.265¢ per kWh.
The average cost of residential electricity was 9.86¢/kWh
in the U.S. in March 2006. The average household used 888
kWh/mo. in 2001 and would pay $87.56 for it based on the March
2006 average rate. (Dept. of Energy)
The cost of electricity varies by region. In 2003 the price
ranged from 5.81¢ in Tennessee to 12¢ in California,
14.314¢ in New York, and 16.734¢ in Hawaii. In Summer
2001, electricity was a whopping 20¢/kWh in parts of
Source: Michael Bluejay
What is kilowatt hour?
The rate of electrical use at any moment is measured in watts.
" A 100-watt light bulb uses 100 watts.
" A typical desktop computer uses 65 watts.
" A central air conditioner uses about 3500 watts.
If your device lists amps instead of watts, then just multiply
the amps times the voltage to get the watts. For example:
2.5 amps x 120 volts = 300 watts
To know how much energy you're using you have to consider
how long you run your appliances. When you run a 1-watt appliance
for an hour, that's a watt-hour. It's abbreviated Wh. For
" One 100-watt light bulb on for an hour is 100 watt-hours
" One 100-watt light bulb on for five hours is 500 Wh
" Five 100-watt light bulbs on for an hour is 500 Wh
1,000 watt-hours is a kilowatt-hour (kWh). For example.
" One 100-watt light bulb on for an hour, is 0.1 kWh
" One 100-watt light bulb on for ten hours is 1 kWh (1
bulbs x 100W x 10h= 1000Wh = 1 kWh)
" Ten 100-watt light bulbs on for an hour, is 1 kWh (10
bulbs x 100W x 1h= 1000Wh = 1 kWh)
" Ten 50-watt light bulbs on for an hour, is 0.5 kWh
" Ten 100-watt light bulbs on for 1/2 an hour, is 0.5
" Running a 3500-watt air conditioner for an hour is
Take a moment to understand the difference between kilowatts
and kilowatt-hours. The former is the rate of power at any
instant. The latter is the amount of energy used A light bulb
doesn't use 60 watts in an hour, it uses 60 watt-hours in
The "-hours" part is important. Without it we'd
have no idea what period of time we were talking about. If
you ever see a reference without the amount of time specified,
it's almost certainly per hour.
Vertical versus Horizontal Turbines
Advantages of vertical wind turbines
" Easier to maintain because most of their moving parts
are located near the ground. This is due to the vertical wind
turbine's shape. The airfoils or rotor blades are connected
by arms to a shaft that sits on a bearing and drives a generator
below, usually by first connecting to a gearbox.
" As the rotor blades are vertical, a yaw device is not
needed, reducing the need for this bearing and its cost.
" Vertical wind turbines have a higher airfoil pitch
angle, giving improved aerodynamics while decreasing drag
at low and high pressures.
" Mesas, hilltops, ridgelines and passes can have higher
and more powerful winds near the ground than up high because
of the speed up effect of winds moving up a slope or funneling
into a pass combining with the winds moving directly into
the site. In these places, VAWTs placed close to the ground
can produce more power than HAWTs placed higher up.
" Low height useful where laws do not permit structures
to be placed high.
" Smaller VAWTs can be much easier to transport and install.
" May not need a free standing tower so is much less
expensive and stronger in high winds that are close to the
" Usually have a lower Tip-Speed ratio so less likely
to break in high winds
Disadvantages of vertical wind turbines
" Most VAWTs produce energy at only 50% of the efficiency
of HAWTs in large part because of the additional drag that
they have as their blades rotate into the wind. This can be
overcome by using structures to funnel more and align the
wind into the rotor (e.g. "stators") or the "vortex"
effect of placing straight bladed VAWTs closely together.
" There may be a height limitation to how tall a vertical
wind turbine can be built and how much sweep area it can have.
" A VAWT that uses guyed wires to hold it in place puts
stress on the bottom bearing as all the weight of the rotor
is on the bearing. Guyed wires attached to the top bearing
increase downward thrust in wind gusts. Solving this problem
requires a superstructure to hold a top bearing in place to
eliminate the downward thrusts of gust events in guyed wired
Advantages of horizontal wind turbines
" Blades are to the side of the turbine's center of gravity,
" Ability to wing warp, which gives the turbine blades
the best angle of attack. Allowing the angle of attack to
be remotely adjusted gives greater control, so the turbine
collects the maximum amount of wind energy for the time of
day and season.
" Ability to pitch the rotor blades in a storm, to minimize
" Tall tower allows access to stronger wind in sites
with wind shear. In some wind shear sites, every ten meters
up, the wind speed can increase by 20% and the power output
" Can be sited in forests above the treeline.
" May be self-starting.
Disadvantages of horizontal wind turbines
" HAWTs have difficulty operating in near ground, turbulent
winds because their yaw and blade bearing need smoother, more
laminar wind flows.
" The tall towers and long blades (up to 180 feet long)
are difficult to transport on the sea and on land. Transportation
can now cost 20% of equipment costs.
" Tall HAWTs are difficult to install, needing very tall
and expensive cranes and skilled operators.
" Supply of HAWTs is less than demand and between 2004
and 2006, turbine prices increased up to 60%. At the end of
2006, all major manufacturers were booked up with orders through
" The FAA has raised concerns about tall HAWTs effects
on radar in proximity to air force bases.
" Their height can create local opposition based on impacts
" Offshore towers can be a navigation problem and must
be installed in shallow seas. HAWTs can't be floated on barges.
" Downwind variants suffer from fatigue and structural
failure caused by turbulence.
What are the dimensions?
Helix wind turbines currently come in two sizes, the Helix
1 kw home for residential applications, which stands 9' feet
tall by 4' feet in diameter (2.74m x 1.21m). The commercial
turbine, the Helix 2 kw measures 12' feet in height by 4'
feet in diameter, (3.6m x 1.21m).
How tall is the mounting pole?
The overall height includes the mounting pole and turbine.
The poles come in 5 foot increments which attach together
plus 9 feet for the 1 kw turbine and generator. Pole length
is determined by local zoning regulations and site characteristics.
What are rotor startup/shutdown speeds?
The low speed Helix Wind turbine will start generating power
at a little over 1 m/s (3.5 mph). It is self-starting and
requires no power or input to spin up. It does not need over
speed control because of its design and will continue to output
power as wind increases up to 35mph. The unit will continue
to spin with no damage to the system in winds as high as 80
mph (this is a sustained speed, it can withstand gusts up
to 125 mph), however no additional electricity will be generated
above maximum output at 35 mph due to restrictions on the
Is it safe for Birds and Bats?
Helix Wind turbines are completely safe for wildlife because
they spin at much lower speeds than horizontal turbines and
appear as a solid mass rather than a sharp blurring blade
that a bird or bat cannot see or detect.
Does the turbine make noise?
The Helix Wind turbines are nearly silent because they operate
with tip speeds close to the wind velocity. This dynamic is
similar to the wind blowing around any stationary object such
as a tree or house. Conventional (horizontal) wind turbines
spin at up to 10 times the wind speed which causes the whistling
sound that can be heard around them.
What are the mass & loadings?
The Savonious 1.8 weighs approximately 250lb not including
the pole structure. Each 5 feet of tower pole weighs approximately
How close can these turbines be mounted
to each other?
The distance between turbines depends on each individual site.
Some locations with strong, consistent prevailing winds can
have adjacent turbines 6 feet apart. Other settings might
require them to be 30 feet apart to minimize shadowing and
a reduction in power output. The optimal layout places consecutive
turbines in a line perpendicular to the prevailing wind.
Can I sell electricity to the grid ?
The laws/regulations vary quite a bit between jurisdictions,
and there is a physics component to be careful of. There is
a concept called "net metering" where customers
connected to the Distribution system (as opposed to High Voltage
customers) can net off the electricity they produce but not
below zero. In other words, customers cannot actually sell
surplus to the grid from home generation. The regulations
that require electric utilities to buy tend to apply to customers
directly connected to the high voltage. Most radial systems
(i.e., distribution grids) are not designed to have injections
of power at the lowest transformer levels. If the surplus
power cannot be taken up by the other homes / businesses connected
to the same transformer, then the transformer has to be replaced
with a two way one, in order to step up power back to the
voltage that runs inter-transformer. So there is a physics
reason for this prohibition, not just utility policy.
What safety features are there?
The Helix Wind is constructed of high strength aluminum and
stainless steel for a lifetime of use in extreme environments.
The interlocking blade structure provides redundant load paths
making a highly damage tolerant unit. The unit has an emergency
brake for user initiated shutdown. Under normal expected conditions
there is no need to stop the turbine, it will safely operate
in 55 mph winds.
Does it have accreditation?
The Grid-Tie Inverter has CE marking and is currently undergoing
evaluation for UL and cUL listing. The turbine and generator
assembly is currently be tested for UL listing. With UL listing
the Helix Wind is eligible for rebates under all state Renewable
How do I calculate my Helix investment payback ?
Unfortunately, accurately calculating the payback on your
wind turbine investment is not as simple as it might seem.
Wind turbine performance depends on a variety of factors including
wind speed, tower height, wind shear, turbulence, local tree
and building placement and air density. We're happy to perform
a custom analysis and estimate of the payback on your investment,
just click here to simply fill out the fields and one of our
Performance Analysts will contact you with your results.
What are the economics of Small Wind?
Although small wind systems involve a significant initial
investment, they can be competitive with conventional energy
sources when you account for a lifetime of reduced or altogether
avoided utility costs, especially considering escalating fuel
The cost of buying and installing a small wind
energy system typically ranges from about $3,000-5,000 per
kilowatt for a grid-connected installation, less than half
the cost of a similar solar electric system. The length of
the payback period (or, the time it takes to "break even")
depends on the system you choose, the wind resource at your
site, your power provider's electricity rates, and financing
and incentives available. Small wind owners with strong average
wind speeds who can take advantage of rebate programs can
usually recoup their investments within fifteen years.
Many states have rebate or tax credit programs
in place to encourage small wind and other renewable energy
applications. AWEA's state-by-state1 pages provide information
specific to buying and installing a small wind turbine in
each of several U.S. states, including the availability of
net metering2, local or state incentive programs, and utility
The cost of a wind system has two components:
initial installation costs and operating expenses. Installation
costs include the purchase price of the complete system (including
tower, wiring, utility interconnection or battery storage
equipment, power conditioning unit, etc.) plus delivery and
permitting costs, installation charges, professional fees
A Good Investment for Windy Landowners with
A 10-kW grid-connected residential-scale system generally
costs $35-40,000 to install. The best candidates for these
systems are rural homes and businesses with at least an acre
of property, a Class 2 or better wind resource3, and utility
bills averaging $150 per month or more. If a net metering
arrangement4 is available from the utility, most of the power
generated by a grid-connected system can be valued at the
retail rate of electricity, reducing the amount of time it
takes for a system to pay for itself.
In California, where net metering and the nation's
highest electric rates are combined with a substantial rebate
program and a state tax credit, small wind system owners with
strong wind resources can recoup their initial investment
in under 10 years, and enjoy essentially free electricity
for the remainder of the system's 30-year useful life. Such
a wind energy system can be an excellent, low-risk investment.
It can provide a return of up to 15-20%, depending on electric
usage and the wind resource.
Smaller Systems Can Offset Electricity Costs,
Smaller wind energy systems also can be used to offset electricity
costs, or to independently power specific applications such
as water pumps or recreational vehicle lights and appliances.
A 3 kW turbine, including 60-80 foot tower,
utility-tie inverter, batteries for back-up system, utility
switch box, battery system box, hardware and installation
components, costs about $15,000. A homeowner using $60-100
per month of electricity can save 10-20% off the electric
bill with a 1 kW turbine, given strong wind resources. The
same homeowner could expect to save 30-60% off that electric
bill using a 3 kW turbine. (Savings depend on average annual
wind speed, tower height, electrical cost and average electric
Systems smaller than 1 kW are more typically
used in stand-alone applications, or as part of a hybrid system
with solar PV cells. A 400-watt system can be installed for
Remote systems may require operating battery
storage. Individual batteries cost from $150 to $300 for a
heavy-duty, 12 volt, 220 amp-hour, deep-cycle type. Larger
capacity batteries, those with higher amp-hour ratings, cost
more. A 110-volt, 220 amp-hour battery storage system, which
includes a charge controller, costs at least $2,000.
Off-Grid Systems Can Be the Least-Cost Option
The cost of extending the utility grid to a new home location
can be significant, sometimes as high as $20,000-$30,000 for
a distance of only one-quarter of a mile. For the same initial
investment, a utility-independent renewable energy system
can be installed that will meet the electricity needs of an
energy-efficient home. Such a system will typically include
a combination of a wind turbine, photovoltaics, batteries,
an inverter, and a back-up generator. These systems can be
cost-effective on a first-cost basis alone, not to mention
the avoidance of monthly utility bills for years to come.
The Electric Power Research Institute has gone
so far as to suggest that in some cases it may make more economic
sense to remove under-used transmission lines in the United
States and serve the loads with hybrid stand-alone power systems
rather than continuing line maintenance. More information
on the economics of small wind systems can be found in the
U.S. Department of Energy's Consumer Guide to Renewable Energy
for Your Home or Energy5 and the Iowa Energy Center's Wind
Energy Manual.6See AWEA's online Small Wind Toolbox7 for descriptions
and links to numerous financial incentives including:
Investment Tax Credits
Investment Incentives (grants/rebates)
Revolving Loan Funds
Sales Tax Reductions
Property Tax Reductions
Other Fact Sheets Available on Small Wind Energy
Source from : www.awea.org