Small Wind Guidebook/What Do Wind Systems Cost
What Do Wind Systems Cost?
Installation costs vary greatly depending on local zoning, permitting, and utility interconnection costs. Depending on these considerations, as well as the turbine size, small wind energy systems have an average cost of approximately $6,960 per kilowatt installed.
Although wind energy systems involve a significant initial investment, they can be competitive with conventional energy sources when you account for a lifetime of reduced or avoided utility costs. The length of the payback period—the time before the savings resulting from your system equal the cost of the system—depends on the system you choose, the wind resource on your site, electricity costs in your area, and how you use your wind system.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Wind Turbine
Once you determine that you can install a wind energy system in compliance with local land use requirements and interconnect your system with the utility grid, you can begin pricing systems and components. Compare prices when shopping for a wind system as you would any major purchase. Obtain and review the product literature from several manufacturers. Lists of manufacturers are available from the American Wind Energy Association and the Distributed Wind Energy Association, but not all small turbine manufacturers are members of these organizations.
In addition, the Small Wind Certification Council provides independent, accredited certification of small wind turbines and consumer information, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) National Wind Technology Center provides information about NREL's small wind turbine testing and development. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NREL have selected four partners (Intertek Testing Services NA, Inc. in New York, Kansas State University, The Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M University, and Windward Engineering, LLC in Utah) to establish small wind Regional Test Centers to conduct tests on small wind turbines to meet national and international standards. Reports from these Regional Test Centers are available for consumers.
Once you have narrowed the field, research a few companies to be sure they are recognized wind energy businesses and that parts and service will be available when you need them. You may wish to contact the Better Business Bureau. Ask for references from past customers with installations similar to the one you are considering. Ask the system owners about performance, reliability, and maintenance and repair requirements, and whether the system is meeting their expectations. Also, find out how long the warranty lasts and what it includes.
You also must decide whether you will perform the installation and maintenance work or whether you will hire an experienced small wind installer as this decision will affect your system's cost. You should plan to assess potential small wind installers and make business decisions based on their experience and credentials.