Installation costs for small wind energy systems can vary significantly based on local factors such as zoning regulations, permitting requirements, and utility interconnection costs. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the cost of small wind energy systems typically ranges from $3000 to $5000 for each kilowatt of generating capacity. While this is generally more affordable than solar electric systems, it’s important to note that the payback period for wind energy systems can be relatively long.
The cost-effectiveness of wind energy improves as the size of the turbine’s rotor increases. Smaller turbines may have lower initial costs, but they can be proportionally more expensive in terms of capacity. For a residential wind energy system with an 80-foot tower, batteries, and an inverter, the total cost typically falls within the range of $15000 to $50000 for a 3- to 10-kilowatt wind turbine.
Despite the significant upfront investment, wind energy systems can become competitive with conventional energy sources when considering the reduced or avoided utility costs over their lifetime. The payback period, which is the time it takes for the savings from the system to equal its cost, depends on various factors such as the chosen system, local wind resources, electricity rates, and usage patterns.
For instance, if you reside in California and have received a 50% buydown for your small wind system, along with net metering and an average annual wind speed of 15 miles per hour (6.7 meters per second), your simple payback period could be around 6 years.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Wind Turbine
When considering the purchase of a wind turbine system, there are several factors to keep in mind:
- Compliance with Local Regulations: Ensure that your wind energy system complies with local land use requirements and zoning regulations.
- Comparative Shopping: Research and compare wind energy systems and components from various manufacturers. Obtain product literature from multiple sources, including those not affiliated with AWEA.
- Local Dealers: Check the yellow pages for wind energy system dealers in your area to identify potential suppliers.
- Company Reputation: Research the reputation of the companies you are considering. Ensure they are recognized as reputable wind energy businesses and can provide parts and services when needed.
- Customer References: Contact the Better Business Bureau to assess the company’s integrity, and ask for references from past customers who have installations similar to what you are planning.
- Performance and Reliability: Speak with current system owners to gather information on performance, reliability, maintenance requirements, and whether their systems meet their expectations.
- Warranty: Inquire about the duration and coverage of the warranty provided for the wind energy system.
By carefully considering these factors and conducting thorough research, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a wind turbine system for your energy needs.