Mapping Wind Resources: How Windy Is the Area Where You Live?

http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/wind-maps-and-resources.aspx

If you’re interested in learning about wind power, there are a lot of resources available online, and I especially like checking out wind resource maps. There’s no faster way to get a quick look at wind power potential in your part of the world.

Two Fast Links to Wind Resource Maps 

  • Check out the wind power available on each continent with this collection of global wind power maps, which were produced by a study at Stanford.

  • Take a look at U.S. wind power with these state wind resource maps from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Learning More with the Maps 

All of these maps break wind resources down into wind power classes. For a quick look at how that translates into actual wind speeds, check out this helpful wind power classes chart from AWEA, the American Wind Energy Association.

A few other things that are helpful to keep in mind when thinking about wind power:

  • Wind resource maps are just general guides. Different site-specific features (hills, trees, buildings, etc.) can make a significant difference in whether your property is a good location for wind power. (You can learn more about that with this small wind guide.)
     

  • When you’re looking for the mightiest winds, remember that wind resources generally get better as you get higher off the ground. (Notice that the wind speeds on the maps and charts above are always listed for specific heights.)
     

  • On this resource page from AWEA it specifies that in general, a wind power class of 4 or higher is currently preferred for large scale wind plants.
     

  • A minimum wind speed may be required for grid-connected home wind turbines. This AWEA resource page also explains that average wind speeds of 5 meters per second (11 miles per hour) and above are generally required for grid-connected applications. Assuming a height of 10 meters, that's toward the upper end of Class 2 wind speeds.

Happy wind surfing!