Best Residential Wind Power case study in U.S.!

A blog reader recently informed me of the City of Reno's Green Energy Dashboard.  The dashboard highlights the city's solar PV and wind turbine installations, and gives a wealth of information on both.  From the dashboard, you can click on each of the Reno's wind or solar installations and find out how much energy that installation has generation today, for the week, or even for the last 365 days!  You can even export the data so you can do your own comparisons!

Highlighting one of the goals of the project, Jason Geddes, the Environmental Services Manager for the City of Reno told me:

The City of Reno has engaged in installing the wind turbines to demonstrate to local citizens and visitors how the new generation of wind turbines compares to the old style wind turbines.

The city of Reno has the following turbines installed:

  • Cascade Engineering Swift (1.5 kW)
  • Helix Wind S322 (2.5 kW)
  • Windspire (1.2 kW)
  • Proven (15 kW)
  • Gaia (15 kW)
  • Aquilo Power Storm (10 kW)
  • Aquilo Power Storm (1 kW)
  • Evance AT-5 (5 kW)

One of the best tools they have on their site for residents interested in wind turbines is their wind resources map, which shows the different wind zones, shown below:

Jason describes the purpose of highlighting the wind zones:

The wind zones developed earlier will be further refined to show how the urban environment may increase or decrease the average wind resource. Due to building aerodynamics in cities, the wind may be increased substantially between buildings, at specific rooftops, and certain public areas. The approach used will leverage the existing three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) of the City of Reno that has been developed. The wind model shows three-dimensional airflow patterns within a particular zone under several different wind conditions, and identifies areas where the wind energy potential is greater and lower than the zone average. Highly graphical airflow imagery for each zone is added to the web portal to allow the user to estimate the percent difference in performance when compared to the zone average.

If you click on one of the flag icons, you get the information shown below.  This wind frequency distribution graph highlights a very important aspect.  When determining the expected energy output of a turbine over the course of a year, you can't just look at the average wind speed, you have to look at the wind speed distribution!  Because the power a wind turbine produces varies by the cube of the wind speed, this distribution is much more informative than just an average wind speed value.


The thing I found most interesting is that the wind turbines just don't seem to be producing that much energy.  This is something I chronicled in our post, Residential Clean Energy: Solar PV vs. Wind. The City of Reno has done an excellent job helping its residents understand the impacts of clean energy, and what works best where.  I plan to keep following up and looking at their data so stay tuned!

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I think society needs to wake up and understand that we as individuals are very capable of producing our own energy. Thanks
That <a HREF="" rel="nofollow">S322 costs $10,500</A> ... and it's best day so far this year was 0.28kWh? Ouch! That's miniscule. I hope that's explained by being in a terrible spot... As you've said, $10,500 of solar PV would get you probably at least 10kWh on a good day.
ckmapawatt's picture
I noticed how horrible the Helix was performing. I'll do a follow up where I compare some of the wind speed data vs. power output. I think there have been a lot of claims out there by the small wind industry that they can't live up to.

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