This popular, renewable energy source can be seen in action around the world in utility, community, or residential scale wind turbines. How does it work? Simple: Wind power is the conversion of kinetic energy of the wind (achieved through rotating propellers) to mechanical energy.
How does wind power keep pollutants out of the air?
Every hour that a wind plant is generating electricity, another power plant – for the most part fossil fuel fired plant somewhere else in New England — does not need to operate. Demand for electricity varies not only between the seasons, but even minute-to-minute, throughout each and every day. Vermont is connected to the New England regional grid which is primarily powered with fossil fuels and nuclear generators. Because most of this, wind plays a vital role in reducing the use of fossil fuels by ramping down those plants.
Does it matter that the wind doesn’t always blow?
Over the course of a year, modern wind turbines can generate usable amounts of electricity over 90 percent of the time. Most electric generating plants are not constantly operating. Some facilities (like nuclear plants) are designed to run most of the time, while others (like gas turbines) are designed to run only when customer demand is at its highest. The electric grid adjusts every minute, as customer demand fluctuates. The grid is designed to accommodate the different operating characteristics of all types of generation.
Why do wind turbines need to be located along ridgelines rather than at lower elevations?
Winds are stronger and more persistent at higher elevations, and the fact is, that at lower elevations – even where mountains and other obstructions do not block the wind — the winds are not sufficient enough to generate economically viable power on a commercial scale. Wind turbines need to be located where the wind can be found. Vermont wind speeds are higher, and more consistent at higher elevations, making it an ideal location for wind turbines.
Who should consider installing a residential wind turbine?
Except for very small wind turbines (i.e., with rotors one meter or less in diameter), a property size of one acre or more is desirable. Before installing a residential turbine, you must determine whether the wind resource in your area makes a small wind turbine economical. The economics of a wind system are sensitive to the specific site conditions (vegetation, structures nearby or other obstacles) of the location being considered, and permitting requirements. Dozens of residential wind turbines operate successfully in Vermont.
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