Wind Turbine ( Solar Thermal Magazine) – So lets say for example that you believe that big hill that sits behind your school or place of business is an excellent spot for a wind turbine. Maybe you are right but now what? How do you collect the data and estimate the energy available from a wind turbine at this location? Lets assume that the location you have in mind is in St.Louis County in the state of Missouri.
For readers in the United States you can visit the NRDC ( National Research Defence Council ) website, energy your state or zip code and you will find an energy map of renewable energy installations and available energy for not just wind but also solar and biofuel.
The data output is color coded showing you the relative energy for each location but it really does not give you enough information such as the average wind speed for your location.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory ( NREL) provides much detail for a location. See below.
This time the color code gives you an average wind speed for the location. This is great information but is it enough to decide whether you should spend the money on a wind turbine? Probably not. What if the wind blows very hard in some months and not at all in others? This may change your decision.
To get this level of information you need to find an existing wind turbine or weather station that is located as close to the location you like so much as possible. If this is not available and it may not be, you should consider having a study done for the location where a company will actually set up a measurement tower and collect data for one year. You need reliable data to base your decision on.
Ok, so lets say that you have managed to get a years worth of wind speed , direction and temperature data. Now what?
You can choose to write a small program or excel spreadsheet to calculate the power available to a wind turbine based on the data or you can buy some software that is designed to deal with this type of data and give you the energy data you need.
There are multiple companies that provide such software and this article does not attempt to compare them.
We picked one at random from Windographer.
Wind turbine energy output
The software can estimate the gross and net energy output and capacity factor of a wind turbine in the measured wind regime at any hub height, accounting for the effects of varying wind shear and air density. You can choose from the library of over 100 wind turbines, or add your own.
These types of programs can provide a lot of great information that will allow you to make an investment decision as to whether you install a wind turbine or not.
Dont worry if there is not enough wind there is always solar right?
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.