01 What is renewable energy?

Energy derived from resources that are regenerative or for all practical purposes cannot be depleted. Types of renewable energy resources include moving water (hydro, tidal and wave power), thermal gradients in ocean water, biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, and wind energy. Municipal solid waste (MSW) is also considered to be a renewable energy resource.

02 Why is energy efficiency important?

Energy efficiency means using less energy to accomplish the same task. The more efficient use of energy throughout our country results in less money spent on energy by homeowners, schools, government agencies, businesses, and industries. The money that would have been spent on energy can instead be spent on consumer goods, education, services, and products.

03 What are the benefits of renewable energy systems?

Renewable energy sources are clean and inexhaustible. The money spent on renewable energy installation tends to remain in the community, creating jobs and fueling local economics. The use of renewable energy equipment also reduces our dependence on foreign and/or centralized sources of energy, and is an important strategy in the process of creating a truly secure and sustainable energy future.

04 What is net metering?

Under net metering, electricity produced by the renewable energy system can flow into the utility grid, literally spinning the existing electricity meter backwards. Net metering is important because it provides a simple, standardized protocol for connecting renewable energy systems into the electricity grid that ensures safety and power quality. In addition, net metering allows renewable energy system owners to receive full value for the electricity they produce over a billing cycle without installing expensive battery storage. It also provides a simple, inexpensive and easily-administered mechanism for encouraging the use of renewable energy systems.

05 Can I use wind or solar for my home or business? How do I know if I can use it in my area?

Most places have enough renewable energy sources to meet some or all of their needs with one or more renewable energy systems. A hybrid system – an installation that uses a combination of different renewable technologies (i.e. PV and wind turbine) – is better suited to varied typography and changing seasons. You can get more specific information by contacting (insert  AAEPL number) for energy designs and to discuss your power requirements, particulars of your property, what type of systems would suit your needs, sunlight and wind energy availability, etc.

06 We would like to put up a wind turbine at our organization. How do we get started?

The basic steps for installing a small wind turbine on your property are:

  • Determine whether the wind resource in your area makes a wind system economical;
  • Determine your facility’s electricity needs by looking at monthly or yearly electricity usage
  • Find out whether local zoning ordinances will allow wind turbine installations
  • Purchase and install a wind turbine sized to the needs OR opt for a third party run wind turbine establishment at your facility OR invest in a wind energy set up at a provider location (like AAEPL) and collect electricity from the current loop against its production.

For more information on how-about contact (insert AAEPL number)

07 What is a wind turbine made of?

The towers are mostly tubular and made of steel or concrete, generally painted light grey. The blades are made of fiberglass, reinforced polyester or wood-epoxy. They are light grey because it is inconspicuous under most lighting conditions. The finish is matt, to reduce reflected light.

08 How efficient are wind turbines?

Wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 meters per second and reach maximum power output at around 15 meters/second. At very high wind speeds, that is gale force winds of 25 meters/second, wind turbines shut down. A modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time, but it generates different outputs depending on the wind speed. Over the course of a year, it will typically generate about 24% of the theoretical maximum output (41% offshore). This is known as its capacity factor. The capacity factor of conventional power stations is on average 50%-80%. Because of stoppages for maintenance or breakdowns, no power plant generates power for 100% of the time.

09 Can wind turbines make people sick?

Over 30 years of studies have failed to show scientific evidence that wind turbines are actually able to make people sick. Over 100,000 turbines are currently in operation throughout the world right now, mostly in Europe, many within premises of residential areas. Conversely, it is a well proven fact that burning coal causes the premature death of hundreds of Ontario residents, and debilitates those with asthma and other respiratory ailments. Similarly, there are multitudes of reports which conclusively demonstrate the dangers of nuclear energy, including a list of over 800 “incidents” such as Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. A growing body of local and international studies has repeated proven that wind energy poses no meaningful health risk to humans, and indeed wind plays an important role in helping us move away from more dangerous alternatives like coal and nuclear.

10 How loud are wind turbines?

Noise can be measured with special meters: the noise from a commercial sized wind turbine at the nearest noise receptor (such as a house that is just outside the legally required setback distance from the turbine) will be no more than 38 dB. This volume is similar to a quiet library. 44 dB is like the sound of a bird chirping, 60 dB is the sound of a normal conversation, and nearby traffic can range from 50-100 dB. Commercial scale wind turbines are quiet: typically quieter than the wind.

11 If we shut down conventional power plants in favor of wind plants, will there be black-outs when the wind doesn’t blow?

A grid-connected system allows you to power your business with renewable energy during those periods (daily as well as seasonally) when the sun is shining, the water is running, or the wind is blowing. Any excess electricity you produce is fed back into the grid. When renewable resources are unavailable, electricity from the grid supplies your needs, eliminating the expense of electricity storage devices like batteries. In addition, power providers (like KSEB) in most states allow net metering, an arrangement where the excess electricity generated by grid-connected renewable energy systems “turns back” your electricity meter as it is fed back into the grid. If you use more electricity than your system feeds into the grid during a given month, you pay your power provider only for the difference between what you used and what you produced.

12 Why do wind turbines seem to spend so much time idle?

A properly installed wind turbine needs to generate electricity between 25 and 35% of the time only. Wind tends to blow most during shifts in the amount of visible sunshine: sunlight brings heat which changes air pressure which creates wind. Wind turbines tend to idle in the middle of the day when the sun is steady or in the dead of the night when the air is still. All forms of electricity power generation have what’s called a “Capacity Factor”, or a number that tells you how much of the time they should be generating electricity. Typical capacity factors for wind energy are between 25 and 35%, PV ranges between 10-20%, hydro is ~45%, nuclear varies between 60 – 80%, etc.

13 We can’t control the weather: How reliable is wind and solar energy?

This is precisely the reason that utility grids are planned along with the setting of alternate energy sources. On their own, wind and solar energy could not power 100% of our electricity needs and the rest of the mix is provided by other complimentary sources.

14 What is the lifecycle carbon impact of wind or solar? 

“Lifecycle impact” is a term used to describe the full environmental impact, typically measured in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, of the combined total impact of manufacturing, shipping, assembling/installing, operating, maintaining, and ultimately decommissioning something. For wind turbines this would involve assessing the impact of using steel and concrete, building and shipping towers, installing access roads, providing appropriate maintenance for the full life of the turbine, ultimately culminating in decommissioning. The most meaningful measure of a generator’s environmental benefit is that of how much energy you get out of it for the emissions it creates, or what the total emissions are per unit of electricity generated (cumulatively from construction through decommissioning). One carbon impact study by Benjamin K Sovacool found that fossil fueled power plants produce electricity with about 443-1050g equivalent CO2 emissions per kWh generated, that nuclear power plants produce electricity with about 66g equivalent lifecycle emissions per kWh, and renewable power generators produce electricity with 9.5-38g CO2 per kWh. Nuclear energy technologies are thus seven to sixteen times more effective than fossil fuel power plants on a per kWh basis at fighting climate change, and renewable electricity technologies are “two to seven times more effective than nuclear power plants”, or as much as 100 times more effective than other fossil fuel power plants. Another way to consider the net lifecycle impact of power generators is a measurement called the “Energy

Payback Ratio” (EPR), which measures how long it takes the generator (wind, nuclear, or other) to create enough energy to replace all the energy used to build it. The higher the number, the more times the generator pays for itself. Wind energy consistently outperforms all technologies except the latest in nuclear technology: older nuclear like that in service around the world today typically has an EPR of 16 to wind’s 23, where theoretical new nuclear might achieve as much as 27. Coal and natural gas are ~10. Wind replaces itself much better than most other alternatives, and the only option that beats wind on the EPR index is the latest theoretical new nuclear, which is far more expensive than wind, and which has yet to be proven.

15 What are the benefits of wind turbines?

Many! To understand the benefits of wind turbines, you really need to compare them to other sources of power and consider what we’d get if we didn’t use wind turbines. Wind turbines produce electricity using a renewable source (i. e: there’s always going to be more wind), and do not produce any greenhouse gases or other emissions from their operation. This results in the following significant benefits:

  • It reduces the amount of electricity generated from coal, nuclear, and other non-renewable fuel sources;
  • It is a sustainable energy source (ie: it won’t ever run out);
  • By reducing the use of coal plants, we improve the air quality and significantly reduce respiratory problems. In turn, this help will reduce the burden on the health care system and free up much needed medical resources by an estimated $30 billion annually;
  • Renewable energy means less carbon in the atmosphere, which helps in the fight climate change.