Proceed with caution. That s the best advice for farmers contemplating getting involved with wind power at any scale.
Wind power is an area generating more interest from farmers every year, and it s not hard to see why, says Kelly Lund, energy specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Edmonton. At a small scale, wind power offers more control over energy costs, and at a large scale it can generate revenue opportunities.
However, like many areas of emerging technology, the early stages of adoption come with a number of hurdles and important considerations. Producers considering becoming involved with wind power will want to know clearly what they re getting into and what they re investing before they take that step.
The small-scale level generally refers to on-farm, noncommercial installations of 50 kW capacity or less. Farmers who go this route want to generate electricity for their own on-farm use to offset some of their energy costs.
The small-scale wind turbine option is seeing tremendous growth, says Lund, but it is not for everyone. Only limited areas and situations have the availability and consistency of wind to justify the investment.
One option producers have is to get a wind assessment done.
Having an assessment done by a qualified person such as an engineer is the only way to know exactly what capacity of wind resources you have available. However, for small installations, the cost of getting an assessment done can be quite high compared to the cost of installing the equipment. As a result, it s often not done.
Just because a neighbour has a wind turbine that is working well doesn t mean it will work for everyone. Wind availability is highly variable. Even when there is enough wind, each situation requires its own best site selection, equipment choice and system design to be successful.
Each producer should do their own homework, and get information and advice before making the choices based on their own particular situation, adds Lund.
Alberta Agriculture offers technical expertise and information resources that can help producers who are considering wind power options. To find out more about resources and programs available, call the Ag-Info Centre at 310-3276(FARM).
Eachproducer shoulddotheirown homework,andget informationand advicebeforemaking thechoicesbasedon theirownparticular situation.
KELLY LUND AARD