Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems by Paul Gipe is a very down-to-Earth book and a practical voice in the over-estimating, over-selling, pipe dream world that is the wind energy industry. Many people think or are told that they’ll be able to spend a little chunk of money on a wind turbine, strap it to their rooftop, and they’ll never have to pay another electric bill or the electric company might even be paying them. Paul Gipe is a reality check in that kind of world to tell you from practical experience that it doesn’t quite work out that way.
The book covers the gamut from micro and small wind turbines on up to large community wind and wind farms but more specifically includes these chapters:
- Wind Energy Basics
- Estimating Performance
- Off the Grid
- Community Wind
- Investing in Wind Energy
- The Challenge
Chapter two includes the equations for estimating the power in the wind, how to calculate it, and how it changes with geographic location. Another book is recommended in the introduction, Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business also by Paul Gipe which acts as a companion and includes all the number crunching folks interested in wind energy would need to know.
Chapter eight talks about “investing” in wind energy. Wind turbines have a considerable amount of regular maintenance required. It’s not a buy and walk away tool, they typically have a two decade ROI at today’s price points. To make this manageable, you have to change your expectations and that’s why Mr. Gipe wants it to be thought of as an investment. Along those same lines, he thinks incentives to build for wind energy should instead be coined as subsidies since that is really what it is with such a long return on investment.
This is the second edition of the book, with the first edition being published in 1999, and along with general updates, community wind is a concept that is stressed in this book. It provides a few examples of co-ops getting together and investing in a large wind turbine near or inside a community and it’s apparent that this is the author’s recommended method of seeing practical wind energy.
The book includes lots of images of different wind turbines but also includes helpful diagrams to help explain different concepts.
Of course, one of the things this book serves best at is as a launching pad for further investigation into the topic of wind energy and it provides tons of resources to follow up on depending on your interests.
Wind Resource Maps
Community Wind Sources
- Ontario Sustainable Energy Association
- The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook by Greg Pahl
Small wind test sites
- Appalachian State University
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- Alternative Energy Institute
- Folkecenter for Renewable Energy
- Michael Klemen
- Wulf Test Field
While Wind Energy Basics brings the lofty conversations about wind energy back down to earth, it isn’t just a kill joy. Quite the opposite. I believe the author just wants to prepare individuals’ expectations but still get the serious people involved in the movement. Near the end of the book, the author makes a challenge that some might see it as both our political and moral duty to create renewable energy and/or rethink our high consumption. He also challenges with two simple facts: Denmark expects to produce 50% of its electricity by 2030 and Germany expects to produce 25-30% by 2020 and 45% by 2030. If America needs to catch up, it’s going to need to rethink its uses and get it into gear.
For updates and even more resources related to wind energy, you can check out Paul Gipe’s website at: www.wind-works.org You can find the book at Amazon, your local library, and other fine book sellers: