In a first for small residential wind, the biomimicry-inspired turbine company Helix Wind has partnered with Atoll Financial Group to offer loans for its small helix-inspired wind turbines; so as to make installation of your own 50+ year supply of free energy just as easy as financing a car. Or solar.
In recent years, solar companies have come up with various ingenious ways around the upfront cost of DIY roof power, from renting (Power Purchase Agreements) to partnering with financing arms (like Sun Run), to simply adding extra property tax payments to your current mortgage (like Berkeley First).
(Of course, most monthly payments can be calibrated to come to about the same cost as the electricity bill you will no longer owe, so there is actually no extra expense really: it’s just a swap. But seeing that upfront cost can be prohibitive, even if you know how much cheaper it is than sticking with your utility over time)
Like solar systems, wind turbines also now get a 30% tax credit from Uncle Sam for making clean energy.
The aluminum and stainless steel Helix wind power systems cost about the same or a bit less than comparable sized solar systems: the 2.5 KW turbine, including tower, utility-tie inverter, utility switch box, hardware and installation components, costs about $15,000 installed, before the 30% tax credit.
A 5 KW grid-connected residential-scale system generally costs $20,000 to 25,000 to install. The smaller unit is 10 feet tall, and the bigger one 20 feet tall and each is mounted on another 10 feet or so of tower.
Individual batteries cost from $150 to $300 for a heavy-duty, 12 volt, 220 amp-hour, deep-cycle type. Larger capacity batteries, those with higher amp-hour ratings, cost more. A 110-volt, 220 amp-hour battery storage system, which includes a charge controller, costs at least $2,000.
You would need one 5 KW turbine if you use about 500 kwh a month (look on your electricity bill for “usage” to see what you’d need). If your average cost per kwh is $0.15 or higher it would be cheaper than utility electricity for you. (If your usage is higher than 5 kwh monthly, you can can string several of these as close as 6 feet apart, assuming your wind supply is good. )
While these turbines will start rotating (and therefor generating electricity) in breezes as little as 8 miles per hour, a good wind supply is more like a minimum of 14 mph. And turbulent and gusty wind or wind that frequently changes direction is ideal. The best setup is 30 feet apart to minimize shadowing and a reduction in power output, with consecutive turbines in a line perpendicular to the most predominant wind.
Other than good wind, you’ll also need an interconnection agreement with your local utility (you can check the net energy meeting regulations regulations in your state at http://www.awea.org/smallwind/states.html) and friendly neighbors and zoning that permits small wind turbine installation.
For off-grid rural sites this really would be a much cheaper option than bringing in electric connections to the regular grid which can cost as much as $20,000-$30,000 to cover even a quarter of a mile. And then you pay for that electricity for ever.
And your utility doesn’t supply you 100% clean renewable energy, like your own wind turbine will.
Image of a Helix at Burning Man by Ahlea Khadro
Via Cnet Greentech
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