How it works
Breezes spin the blades of a windmill or turbine, which in turn spin a shaft that’s connected to an electricity generator.
- Wind energy is nonpolluting and everlasting.
- The cost of wind energy from utility companies has dropped by 85 percent over the last 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
- By using net-metering programs, home wind-turbine owners receive credit for excess energy they provide to their community energy grid.
- Because wind is intermittent, energy production waxes and wanes. (Optimal wind speed is between 16 and 60 mph.) Although wind energy can be stored, it’s more cost-effective to distribute it as it is produced.
- Community covenants or local laws may prohibit turbines, which can be noisy.
- At utility-scale wind farms, turbine blades may inadvertently injure or kill birds and bats.
Because wind power produces zero greenhouse gases, using it helps reduce problems associated with global warming and fossil-fuel consumption, such as acid rain.
Best choice for …
those who want to get off the grid without investing a lot. Especially viable for those in rural (and frequently windy) areas.
Wind power costs about 5 cents per kilowatt hour, which makes it one of the least expensive forms of renewable energy. According to the DOE, more than 500 utility companies offer customers the option of paying slightly more to use “green-generated” power; many of them offer a wind power option. To build or buy your own wind turbine, you’ll pay between $540 and $5,000, depending on size.
DOE Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program
Offers an inside glimpse of wind turbinetechnology.