Installing Wind Generator Maine
Wind energy works in certain regions of Maine, but most homeowners are better off with solar power
Photos courtesy of Blueberry

Last week, our friends at the Shelter Institute posted a report from two of their Small Housebuilding Class graduates.

James and Kim wrote about a small-scale wind project they have recently finished on one of the islands off of Friendship in Muscongus Bay, Maine.

Not only is their story fascinating and impressive, but they make some serious and thoughtful analysis of how wind compares to solar power as a renewable energy.

They remark that while their wind system is performing as expected, for most people they think solar is a better option:

I think the main lesson we have learned (and would like to pass along to others) is that PV panels (solar panels) are much more cost effective as a means of autonomous energy production than wind, unless the wind site is very unique … We did our own informal wind survey and felt fairly confident we’d get at least 1 kWh of production daily in the winter months (but only when the prevailing winds shifted to northerlies), and we’ve met that. However, many people we’ve spoken to have mistakenly used turbine specs rather than an integrated formula for wind speed and time to calculate what they will generate, only to be disappointed in the small amount of energy they actually are able to produce.

… So, for the biggest green generation bang, we recommend solar panels. Compared to wind, the sun is ubiquitous. Our situation is unique in that we know we’ll get wind when the sun isn’t out in the winter, so the wind project fills in a gap in our ability to generate power year round, and we have no other means of getting non-fossil power out here. An alternative would have been to double our solar PV bank and add batteries to our current 2,000 pound battery bank, storing excess energy on sunny days for those days when we have wind without sun.

We have to agree – while wind energy has great potential under the right circumstances, most homes are built on poor sites for wind while solar power is available anywhere the sun shines.

If you’re curious as to whether your home or business has potential for harvesting solar energy, ReVision offers a free solar site evaluation.

A complete write-up of their experience with both wind and solar is up on the Shelter Institute blog – there are also some great photos on Picasa.

We want to thank the Shelter Institute again for sharing this inspiring story!