Wind can usually provide more watts per dollar than any renewable energy source. Wind turbines, depending on their power output capacity, can cost a few hundred dollars for "toy" models to tens of thousands of dollars for models capable of producing 20Kw of electricity.
The initial cost of a wind turbine can be split into three categories. The first one is the wind turbine itself with the other two being the cost of the tower and the cost of the installation and other equipment. The turbine cost ranges from £325 for a 400-watt turbine to £3,900 for a 4Kw turbine to £32,500 for a 20Kw turbine.
Wind turbines are not delivered with a tower. The tower height depends on the power of the turbine and the quality of the wind you want to tap into. The higher the tower is, the better wind you will get, with more consistency and less turbulence. The consistency of the wind will make the turbine produce more electricity, but the less turbulent air will put less stress on the internal components of the turbine. 400-watt to 1Kw are usually put on top of 33- to 50-foot towers, but larger turbines can have towers from 80 to 120 feet. The tower needs to be able to support the weight of the turbine and withstand high wind velocity. A 30- to 50-foot tower installed will cost £3,250 to £5,200, but 80- to 120-foot towers will cost £7,800 to £19,500.
Installation cost and maintenance
Installation costs include the foundation for the tower as well as the electrical equipment to interface with the house or facility. The foundation and installation of the tower will depend on the height of the tower and your terrain type. The foundation will need several cubic yards of concrete, excavation machines and a experienced builders.
Depending on if the system is grid tied or off-grid, you might have to purchase batteries and/or converters. Such equipment can cost £1,950 to £4,550, but some companies offer grid ties or off-grid kits and include the necessary hardware at a substantial savings.
Maintenance is necessary to have a wind turbine perform at peak efficiency. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay 1 per cent to 3 per cent of the initial cost of a wind turbine each year on maintenance, equating to £130 to £390 for a £13,000 turbine.
Commercial vs. homemade
Wind turbines can be homemade, and building classes are available if you want to go the DIY route. Homemade turbines can be made at a substantially lower cost, even using new parts. Homemade turbines are available from advanced amateur builders from £1,300 for a 800-watt turbine, making it three to four times cheaper than a commercially available turbine. These seminar are in-person like the ones usually organised at alternative energy fairs, during the year by groups like otherpower.com and are also available online through Solar Energy International.
Grant and tax credit
Depending on your state, you might have access to a grant, tax credit or incentive. Both state and federal governments have tax credits available when purchasing a commercially available wind turbine. Your local utility also might offer you a credit to install a grid-tied system. Check with all those sources to save up to 30 per cent of the system's cost.
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