Distributed Wind Energy
The distributed wind market includes wind turbines and projects of many sizes, from small wind turbines on private land providing less than 1 kilowatt (kW) of energy to multi-megawatt wind farms that power campuses or large facilities. The turbines can provide all of the power used at a location or can provide part of the power to offset utility bills.
Why Distributed Wind Matters
The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently published an analysis of the U.S. distributed wind market suggesting that there could be a substantive role in the nation's electricity future for behind-the-meter distributed wind—systems used primarily by their owner. The resource is large, and there are conditions under which the economics for large quantities (tens of gigawatts) become viable over time.
The Energy Department, in partnership with the Small Wind Certification Council and NREL, conducts research to increase the number of certified small wind turbines on the market and increase consumer confidence in their performance. The Northwest Wind Resource and Action Center also offers information about distributed wind, including case studies.
At first glance, some community wind projects may resemble standard land-based, utility-scale wind projects. They can include several midsize wind turbines connected to a single grid. However, where they differ is the recipient of the energy. Community wind projects deliver electricity to a local community and, while the energy may be shared by many people in the community, it does not make its way into the main utility transmission grid. One of the defining characteristics of a community wind project is that most of the project benefits remain in the local community.
Small wind projects can be as simple as a single wind turbine on private property. Residential distributed wind allows landowners to harness the energy created by wind and use as much as they need to power their home and other buildings on the property. The energy created using distributed wind can stay off the grid, or a landowner can connect a turbine to the grid.
More Information on Distributed Wind
These resources provide additional information about distributed wind.
The common questions answered on this page will help you determine whether a small wind energy system is practical for powering your home.
This annual report published by the Energy Department analyzes industry trends that are unique to distributed wind applications, detailing costs, numbers of deployments, performance, capacity factors, types of turbines used, application types, domestic and international markets, and market drivers and barriers.
This 2014 webinar presented an overview of recent news and updates pertaining to small and distributed wind turbines.
This guidebooks helps homeowners and communities learn more about distributed wind and whether installing a small wind turbine might be a good investment. The guidebook includes FAQs, wind resource maps, and a description of the steps to install distributed wind.
This WINDExchange podcast explores some of the permitting and zoning issues relevant to distributed wind.
Federal, state, and local regulations govern many aspects of wind energy development and are important to the development of distributed wind projects. This site provides more than 400 ordinances that could be used as a guide to understand some of the restrictions around the deployment of distributed wind energy projects.
Learn how you can own, partner with, host, and support wind power.