This post brought to you by Sauer Energy. All opinions are 100% mine.
Wind power is the world’s fastest growing source of renewable energy, and it’s easy to see why it’s so appealing. According to CleanEnergy.org, a single megawatt of wind capacity can generate enough energy to power 300 homes. Off the coast of South Carolina alone, there are over 130,000 MW of wind resources just waiting to be taken advantage of.
And, that energy is 100% clean and 100% renewable. A few turbines set up in a strategic location can power entire cities.
The problem with wind power, and the turbines in particular, is that they’re often prohibitively expensive for the average homeowner. If you want renewable energy, you often have to buy it through your power company simply because you can’t afford a turbine of your own.
However, all this is about to change. Let’s take a look at our energy problem, and examine a new technology that will enable the average family to install a turbine in their own home.
The Rising Cost of Energy
You don’t need me to tell you that the cost of energy is going up. Every time you turn up the thermostat, or flick on a light switch, you’re likely paying more for that energy than you did the year before.
Why do costs keep going up? Well, there are many reasons, but the biggest is because our thirst for energy just keeps growing. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) regularly puts out a report, usually once a month, detailing how much energy we’re consuming, and how much more we’re likely to consume over the next few months. And almost every time, the numbers keep rising.
For instance, the EIA’s June report states that our coal consumption grew by 4.5% in 2010. Natural gas consumption rose by 1.4% compared to last year.
And like anything in the world, when demand goes up, prices go up. The EIA estimates that prices per kWh of electricity will go from 11.58 cents, on average, to 11.83 cents. Not a big change, just 2.2%, but it’s like that every year. Over 10 years, that’s over a 20% increase, so it adds up. Year by year, it’s costing us more to heat, cool, and power our homes.
As a result of our increasing energy consumption, we’re also emitting more greenhouse gasses. Estimates from the EIA state that our CO2 emissions rose 3.8% in 2010.
Benefits of Wind Power
All these numbers paint a grim picture, not only for our wallets, but for the environment as well. However, renewable energy sources, like wind, easily solve these problems.
There are many benefits to using wind power to power homes and businesses.
1. Wind Power Is Clean
Wind power is a renewable energy source. That means it produces energy with zero emissions. Once the turbine is produced, it’s 100% safe for the planet and for people. It doesn’t contribute to acid rain or smog, and doesn’t cause any health effects for people and animals.
It’s also infinitely renewable. The wind always blows, which means once the turbine is in place, it will always produce power as long as it’s properly maintained. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, will run out one day.
2. Wind Power Uses No Water
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (USDE), irrigation and thermal electric generation accounts for 77% of our fresh water use. Wind turbines use no water, which saves that incredibly valuable resource for other uses.
3. Wind Power Is Independent
The U.S. is the world’s largest importer of oil and natural gas. Using wind power instead of importing our energy means we’re investing money here at home and providing jobs locally instead of paying other countries, many of which are under troubled or dangerous governments.
Wind power provides job, as well as tax revenue, where it’s needed most.
4. Wind Power Saves Money
Homeowners who invest in a wind turbine don’t just save money once they’ve recouped their costs. They also have the option of selling excess power back to the power company. Not only does a wind turbine save money on utility bills, but it can also help earn money as well.
5. Wind Power Is Great for Remote Locations
Do you want to build a small cabin way out in the boonies? You can spend $50,000 or more just to get electric power out to your future home. Do you want to live on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest? If there’s no power out there already, you’re out of luck.
The great thing about VAWT turbines is that they’re a wonderful source of power if you’re in a remote location. They’re great for boats, lighthouses, ranger stations, and RV living. VAWTs also make a good option for a backup power source in the event of emergencies and natural disasters.
Wind Power: VAWT vs. Horizontal Turbines
Until recently, wind power was out of reach for many people. Horizontal turbines were, and still are, expensive. And because it took so long to recoup the investment, many homeowners avoided turbines in general.
However, a new turbine design has changed the face of wind power forever. The Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, or VAWT, like the WindCharger from Sauer Energy, pictured below, has made wind power affordable and realistic for many people.
As you can see in the video, Sauer’s VAWT looks drastically different than a traditional horizontal wind turbine. And these differences result in many important benefits for all of us.
1. The VAWT Is More Affordable
Because the VAWT is more compact, it costs less money to produce. This translates into lower up-front costs for consumers.
2. The VAWT Saves Space
If you live in a neighborhood and want to install a wind turbine, good luck to you. Horizontal turbines require some space.
The cool thing about Sauer’s WindCharger is that it’s small. It requires far less space to operate effectively than a regular turbine, making it ideal for the average homeowner.
3. The VAWT Needs Less Wind
Horizontal turbines need a great deal of constant wind to operate efficiently. This is why you always see them on tall towers. And if you live in an area with mediocre or inconsistent wind, then you’re out of luck. Investing in a horizontal turbine will never save you enough energy to justify the investment.
However, this isn’t the case with Saeur’s VAWT. This turbine only needs a 5 mph wind to start turning the blades. And because of its design, it doesn’t need to be high on a tower; placed on a roof or chimney will do the trick just fine. That said, it will generate more power if placed above a building to take advantage of a full wind.
The VAWT is perfect for smaller homes because it will still work effectively lower to the ground. And because it’s closer and has fewer moving parts, it requires less effort to service and maintain.
Furthermore, Sauer’s WindCharger takes advantage of wind blowing from any direction. Horizontal turbines have to be pointed into the wind; often, this is done by computers. On the other hand, because of the way the VAWT blades are designed, Sauer’s turbine can generate energy from wind in any direction without needing to change direction.
4. VAWTs Are Less Conspicuous
Personally, I think wind turbines are beautiful. To me, they’re graceful and soothing to look at, and they represent a world I’m excited to be part of. However, not everyone feels this way. Many people see wind turbines as ugly intruders on the natural landscape.
The great thing about VAWTs is that because they’re closer to the ground, they’re not as conspicuous. They’re quiet and unobtrusive, and are less of a threat to birds and bats.
It’s been a dream of mine for years to build an off-grid home out of recycled shipping containers. It sounds crazy I know, but I have it all planned out and it’s going to be amazing! My husband and I have spent a lot of time researching renewable energy sources, and we’ve decided to use a combination of wind and hydro power for our energy needs.
I truly believe wind power, especially VAWTs like Sauer’s WindCharger, is the future of renewable energy. Our nation, especially the Great Plains, has infinite wind potential. Harnessing it effectively would not only dramatically lower our greenhouse gas emissions, but it would also create thousands of jobs and make us more energy independent. Turbines like the WindCharger can also help average families become more independent, producing their own energy, and eliminate monthly energy bills.
What do you think? Would you install a turbine like Sauer’s WindCharger if the price was right?