Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wind Energy is Gaining Popularity!

Another renewal energy system that is gaining popularity is WIND ENERGY. You might want to consider using this type of system in your energy efficient home.

Scientists estimate that wind energy could produce 20% to 30% of the United States’ energy by the year 2030 (Check out the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website). It is possible to incorporate wind energy into your new green home by installing a wind generator, also called a wind turbine, to harvest the movement of air and convert it to electricity. In some areas, small wind turbines can generate enough energy to keep a new green home off the grid.

A wind turbine is, in effect, simply a windmill. The difference is that a windmill converts kinetic energy into mechanical energy used directly by machinery, like the pump to a well, while a wind turbine converts kinetic energy into electricity. In most designs, blades are attached to an axle that runs into a gearbox. The gearbox controls the blades’ rotation speed – the faster the rotation, the more AC electricity produced.

As air is heated by the sun, it expands and rises as colder air rushes in to take its place, creating winds and causing the turbines blades to spin and generate electricity which is delivered to the home by cables. Tail fans keep the blades oriented into the wind while a computer system in the turbine controls the direction of the blades.

The wind velocity in your area plays an important part in the cost to generate electricity. Scientists have divided wind velocity into seven classes (class one being the lowest and class 7 being the highest). Generally the wind turbine needs to be in class three areas or above to economically generate power.

Cautions: Electricity must be produced at the right frequency and voltage to be compatible with a utility grid. Also, since wind speeds can vary greatly, so can the speed of the generator, meaning fluctuations in the amount of electricity produced. Wind turbines have equipment choices to solve this issue. Check with a professional regarding your specific property location and equipment requirements.

Benefits: Wind energy is free, and is gaining momentum across the world in commercial and residential applications. Only minimal equipment is required and the return on investment can be substantial!

For wind maps of the United States with individual state information, check out "Where is the wind?" from the Department of Energy.

For help in incorporating a renewable energy system into your new sustainable home design, give us a call or send an email. We'll be happy to answer any of your questions and get you started on designing a green home that fits your site, your sustainable lifestyle, and your budget!

Jackie Lampiasi, Marketing Director

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