The greenest Bay Area homes boast solar panels, batteries, energy-efficient windows, appliances and doors.
Wind power? Nope.
Several companies offer small turbines, including a new Mountain View startup, and wind power is sweeping to record levels across the country.
But there’s a reason small turbines are absent from Bay Area homes and businesses — in suburban environments, they don’t produce much power. They’re expensive, can be wobbly and work best perched above roof lines and trees. Do-it-yourself repairs are limited, unless you’re comfortable working outdoors, about eight stories off the ground.
Experts say wind turbines can have a place in a green personal energy system, but homeowners should expect to go big and tall. There’s a lot to know about where wind works and where it fails.
“The bigger you can go, the better,” said Ian Woofenden, a renewable energy consultant and author of Wind Power for Dummies. “People aren’t putting up towers for the look.”
Industrial wind power is booming across the country, providing about four times more energy than solar power last year, according to federal statistics. Through the end of last year, 82,000 megawatts of wind capacity operated in the U.S., enough to power 24 million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association, or AWEA.
California ranks fourth nationally for installed wind capacity with 5,656 megawatts. The state has almost 8,400 wind turbines. Last year, wind generated almost 7 percent of the state’s electricity needs, enough to power 1.3 million homes, according to the AWEA.
The state has six major wind generation areas,…
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