Wind is really a form of solar power. Sunlight heats the atmosphere and creates air movement. Winds blow unevenly across the earth, due to ground formations, bodies of water, heating and cooling patterns, and the earth's rotation. The wind also blows at different speeds at different altitudes. Most commercial wind farms take advantage of steady winds that are available at an altitude of 50-100 meters.
Wind power is a versatile energy-source that works well on many different scales and for many different people - homeowners, schools, farms, businesses, municipal and regional utilities, and communities.
There are many different ways to develop wind power:
Small Wind (Micro-generation): These smaller turbines are usually installed at homes, schools, businesses, farms, and ranches. Production can range from 2-40 kilowatts (kW), or up to 100 kW for farm and business needs. The turbine sweep is 10-25 feet with poles up to 80 feet high. Turbines generally require about an acre of land. In order to succeed, small wind requires statewide fair net metering policies - these policies allow customers to hook up to the grid and sell back their unused power with a fair reimbursement from utilities.
Municipal Wind: Municipal utilities can install turbines to offset their dependence on other fuel sources or contracts.
Community Wind: These smaller developments usually produce no more than 20 megawatts (MW). In community wind developments, entities such as schools, farming co-ops, or community members themselves have a significant financial stake in the venture and earn a direct share of its returns.
Utility Wind: These large, utility-scale development produce 100 MW and up, and are usually owned by outside investors. The land where turbines are placed remains independently owned. Landowners receive payments per turbine, and the local county receives payments as well.