Mother Earth News Blogs > Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

All things energy, from solar and wind power to efficiency and off-grid living.


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

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!

joan_23
8/21/2009 6:53:37 PM

Your map is not correct. We, in the Four Corners, have wind most of the year--strong wind and very strong wind. There are only a few times that we have no wind (est. 20% of the year). I wish we had a wind mill. It's hard to find a time when the wind does not blow at least a little.


sharyl
8/21/2009 1:02:01 PM

Most of the wind power articles, books, etc. I find that are geared toward people very new to the concept are for the homeowner. However, my family has farm land in the Texas panhandle that my dad (the current custodian) is considering converting to a large wind farm. Neither of us know much about the subject, though I'm incredibly new to it. Anyone know of some sources for someone in my situation?


b knight
8/21/2009 10:59:40 AM

Once you know how much wind you are likely to get in your area, you can then calculate how much electrical power that will generate. Here's a link, that walks you through the steps, from reading the wind speed off the wind maps (plus a couple more wind map links), down to the final power you can expect. http://www.greenterrafirma.com/small_turbines.html Some math is required, but with the examples given, it's not to tricky...