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Location Matters
Most locations have winds that blow out of somewhat-specific directions over the bulk of the year. These are known as prevailing winds and are plotted graphically in a wind rose.

Using the wind rose for your site will help determine the best location for your tower. Over the course of the year, the wind blows from all directions, so any location on your property is going to be a compromise. However, you can minimize turbulence while optimizing your site’s wind profile by placing your tower as far upwind in the direction of the area’s prevailing winds as possible.

The site for the first turbine (1) turned out to be highly compromised—downwind from almost all obstacles on the property relative to the prevailing wind direction. Subsequent turbines were placed at sites 2 and 3

The site for the first turbine (1) turned out to be highly compromised—downwind from almost all obstacles on the property relative to the prevailing wind direction. Subsequent turbines were placed at sites 2 and 3

My Wisconsin homestead is typical—a house and a few buildings, all with electricity, fencerows for privacy and to block winter storm winds, and a few tall trees. At first glance, one might opt to site the wind turbine close to the house for a shorter wire run, which is exactly what we did with our first turbine. If you look at the wind rose for our site (at right), however, you’ll notice that this places our tower  downwind of almost all obstacles on our property relative to the prevailing wind direction. While the turbine generates adequately, it would actually generate more if it had been sited somewhere else. The locations of our two other wind turbines are much less subject to turbulence most of the year.

 

The compromise I had to make, especially with the third site, is a longer wire run. However, wire cost constitutes a the wind rosesmall percentage of the cost of an entire wind system installation. More important was getting upwind of the major sources of turbulence at our site—a strategy that will help optimize energy generation and reduces wear and tear on the equipment.

You should be able to access a wind rose for your location from your state energy office or wind map, or local agricultural office. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has downloadable wind roses from various climate stations (see Access). Other good sources of prevailing wind directions include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association or Weather Underground, both of which keep local climatological data.

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