U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
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Distributed Wind Market Applications

Distributed Wind Market Applications

File: Distributed Wind Market Applications

Date: 11/30/2007

Distributed wind energy systems provide clean, renewable power for on-site use and help relieve pressure on the power grid while providing jobs and contributing to energy security for homes, farms, schools, factories, private and public facilities, distribution utilities, and remote locations. America pioneered small wind technology in the 1920s, and it is the only renewable energy industry segment that the United States still dominates in technology, manufacturing, and world market share.

The series of analyses covered by this report were conducted to assess some of the most likely ways that advanced wind turbines could be utilized as an option to large, central station power systems. Each chapter represents a final report on specific market segments written by leading experts in each sector. As such, this document does not speak with one voice but rather a compendium of different perspectives from the U.S. distributed wind field.

For this analysis, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) defined distributed applications as wind turbines of any size that are installed remotely or connected to the grid but at a distribution-level voltage.

Distributed wind systems generally provide electricity on the retail side of the electric meter without need of transmission lines, offering a strong, low-cost alternative to photovoltaic (PV) power systems that are increasingly used in urban communities. Small-scale distributed wind turbines also produce electricity at lower wind speeds than large, utility-grade turbines, greatly expanding the availability of land with a harvestable wind resource. These factors, combined with increasingly high retail energy prices and demand for on-site power generation, have resulted in strong market pull for the distributed wind industry, which is poised for rapid market expansion.

Seven market segments were identified for initial investigation. These market segments, documented in this report, include small-scale remote or off-grid power; residential or on-grid power; farm, business, and small industrial wind applications; and "small-scale" community wind. A summary of the market for remote wind-diesel applications is also included in this summary, although a full report was never completed. The remaining two market segments, water pumping for large-scale irrigation and water desalination, are currently being assessed as part of other program activities and are not included at this time. While some of these market applications have existed for some time, others are just beginning to emerge as part of distributed wind power.

This information was last updated on January 01, 2008