An Introduction to Small Wind

Claire Moloney's picture
Claire Moloney
Consultant
June 26, 2014

Small wind turbines are 100 kilowatts (kW) or less and are used to power homes, small businesses, and farms.

Small wind turbines are 100 kilowatts (kW) or less and are used to power homes, small businesses, and farms.

United States Small Wind Turbine Market

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has published many studies on the small wind market in the U.S. and the world on their website. Their recent reports on small wind show that it has been growing in the U.S.

In their U.S. Small Wind Turbine Market Report Year Ending 2010, AWEA reported that in the United States, small wind installations grew 25% between 2009 and 2010, with more than 25 megawatts of small wind installed in 2010. This is 8 times the installation capacity of 2005.

To visualize this growth differently, there were 7,811 small wind units installed in 2010, compared with 2,100 in 2001. However, there were more units installed in years prior to 2010, with 9,820 units in 2009 and 10,386 units in 2008, but the power capacity was greater in 2010 (meaning there were fewer, but more powerful turbines installed in 2010).

Roof-top wind turbines experienced significant growth in 2010, with 1,074 units sold. Their combined capacity of over 1,700 kW was 430% greater than the installed roof-top wind turbine capacity in 2009.

Cost of a Wind Turbine for the Home

According to AWEA’s study, the average installed cost of small wind turbines was $5,430 per kilowatt.

Windustry.org estimates that small wind turbines average about $3,000 to $5,000 per kilowatt. A wind turbine for an average home is about 10 kilowatts, so the turbine would cost $30,000 to $50,000.

However, there are financial incentives for small wind installations that may decrease your investment. For example, the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit awards a 30% tax credit for small wind turbines placed in service on residential property on or before December 31, 2016.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) also lists local incentives for wind by state on their website.

Finding a Small Wind Installer

Installing a small wind turbine on your property will require a certified wind installer. The North American Board of Certified Practitioners (NABCEP) offers a small wind installer certification.

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