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Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines generate emissions-free electricity from a renewable energy resource. Situating a wind turbine on a site requires careful measurement of wind patterns. While extensive maps of solar resources exist, the same is not true of wind resources. Small wind turbines are available with capacities in the range of a few hundred watts. Larger turbines offer significant economies of scale. Similar to PV systems, wind turbines must be connected to the grid or to a battery system to provide continuous power.


Cost Considerations

Installed wind systems typically cost $4.00-6.00/watt for small systems, with the cost per watt decreasing substantially as turbine size increases. The capital cost for wind turbines is lower than PV systems for moderate-to-large loads. Like PV, wind systems provide intermittent power so must be used with a generator and/or battery storage system for off-grid facilities.

Maintenance Considerations

Maintenance requirements for turbines are heavily dependent on local conditions. Due to the moving parts, maintenance for wind turbines is somewhat higher than for PV systems. Normally, a turbine should receive a maintenance check every three months. Necessary maintenance includes lubrication of the moving parts, checking bolts and electrical connections, checking supporting guy wires for proper tension, and examining components for corrosion. Rotor blades and bearings normally need replacement after about ten years. Small turbines (fewer than 10 kW) generally do not require a gearbox, which is a component that often requires attention in larger systems.

Additional Resources

These are links to external publications and Web sites that have information on issues related to providing reliable electricity and energy services at health facilities. USAID and Powering Health make no warrantee or guarantee regarding these external resources, and the organizations hosting these resources are solely responsible for their content.


Small Wind Electric Systems: A U.S. Consumer's Guide, U.S. Department of Energy, March 2005 (PDF 1,270K).

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with the basic information about small wind electric systems to help you decide if wind energy will work for you.

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