Cost-Effective Wind Turbine for Electricity Self Sufficiency on Small and Mid-Size Farms

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

502 S 6TH AVE
Bozeman, MT 59715
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


There is potential for a major expansion of windpower production on small and mid-size farms in the United States. Most of the nation?s wind resources are located on farm and ranch land. However, US sales of small (less than 100kW) wind turbines are still relatively limited, amounting to fewer than 7,000 units in 2006. The major reason is the unacceptably high system cost and long payback period of existing commercial wind turbines. Other reasons include public objections to the visual appearance and noise of conventional wind turbines, and their perceived lethality to birds and bats. The proposed Wind Fin technology has been designed to overcome all of these major barriers to market acceptance of small wind systems. Previous research indicates that the Wind Fin will reduce the cost of small wind systems (3kW and larger) by approximately half. In addition, this past research demonstrates that the Wind Fin?s overall power generation is significantly larger than the power generation of conventional wind turbines at lower wind speeds of 5 to 15 mph. This lower wind-speed capability will enable the Wind Fin technology to open up entirely new rural areas to windpower production. In addition, the Wind Fin will provide a faster return on investment than other small wind turbines, because it will be generating electricity when conventional wind turbines either are not operating or are producing only minimal power. This project is expected to result in a reliable, robust wind-energy system that will generate electricity at a cost of approximately 3 cents per kilowatt hour. This is roughly a fourth of the current national residential retail price. Harnessing wind energy cost-effectively will play a major role in increasing the profitability and economic viability of small and mid-size farms, many of which are struggling because of high energy costs. The Wind Fin will enable energy production that is highly distributed throughout rural America, contributing significantly to the nation?s energy security and fostering stability in the national energy grid.