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Small Wind Turbines

Though the recession would suggest otherwise, small wind turbine purchases in the U.S. increased significantly in 2009. As reported by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the small wind turbine market "grew 15% in 2009 with 20.3 Megawatts (MW) of new capacity and $82.4 million in sales. This growth equates to nearly 10,000 new units and pushes the total installed capacity in the U.S. to 100 MW." The AWEA attributes this growth to sustained consumer demand (a given), improved incentives on the state and federal levels, and private equity investments in small wind turbine manufacturing.

small wind turbine

What Defines a Small Wine Turbine?

As defined by the AWEA, a small wind turbine is an electric generator that produces 100 kilowatts or less of clean, emissions-free wind energy. There are more than 200 different models of small wind turbines manufactured today. However, the small wind turbine system is essentially the same amongst them all, comprised of the:

  • Wind Turbine
  • Turbine Controller
  • Inverter
  • Wiring and Disconnects

Small wind turbine blades range from 2 to 15 feet in length, and the turbine is mounted on a tower or "monopole" that stands from 35 to 140 feet high. Return to Top

Where are Small Wind Turbines Most Commonly Used?

The level of energy output of small wind turbines makes them ideal for producing power for homes, farms, small businesses, schools and the like. There are thousands of them operating in this capacity throughout the United States. Return to Top

How Many Small Wind Turbines Generate Power in the U.S.?

There are thousands of small wind turbines throughout the United States, the majority of them concentrated in the upper Midwest, Northeast and California. Return to Top

What is a Vertical Axis Small Wind Turbine?

Instead of propeller blades, some small wind turbines use the vertical axis system. This is a cylinder-like apparatus that operates much like a barbershop pole or corkscrew. Return to Top

What Does it Cost to Operate a Small Wind Turbine?

Provided it has been properly sited for optimal performance, a small wind turbine costs $3-6 per watt and 15-20 cents per kilowatt hour. Return to Top

Are There Any Financial Incentives?

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offers tax credits of up to 30 percent for small wind turbines. A number of states also offer rebates, with the best incentives in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts and Ohio. Return to Top

Where are They Manufactured?

Unlike solar panels, the majority of small wind turbines are manufactured in the United States. Of the 250 manufacturers worldwide, the U.S. is home to 95 of them. Return to Top

Are There Any Certifications to Look For?

Certification now exists not only for small wind turbine systems, but also wind turbine installation professionals. Return to Top

Can Small Wind Turbines be Connected to the Electric Grid?

Yes, you can connect your small wind turbine to the electric grid. If and when your turbine produces more energy than you need, it goes into the grid for others to use. On the other hand, if and when you need more electricity than your turbine is producing, the grid provides the electricity you need. Of course, if you prefer, you can avoid the electric grid altogether and charge batteries with any excess electricity your turbine produces. Return to Top