Depending on the wind speed average and the amount of energy consumed every month, Skystream typically lowers a household electricity bill by 20% to 90%. It is not uncommon for Skystream owners with total-electric homes to have monthly utility bills of only $8 to $15 for nine months of the year (2005 data). The amount of money a Skystream saves you in the long run will depend upon its installed cost, the amount of electricity you use, the average wind speed at your site, and other factors.
For a typical home in California, where the cost of energy is $0.14/KWh, the Skystream 3.7 will produce 400 KWh per month. This will save a household $672 per year on their utility bill. At this rate, they will pay for their Skystream system in approximately 12 years (after rebates, payback is as low as 7 years. This example assumes: $8,500 installed cost, power in an 8 MPH breeze with full output achieved at 20 mph.
Skystream lists conditions you need to meet for their product to work for you. They say you need at least a half acre of land that is unobstructed. Note that eliminates most suburban and city homes right there. Also, you need zoning permission to put up a tower 42 feet high (12.8 meters). Plus, you need a utility that'll let you sell back excess electricity. All these factors shrink the market. Though I can imagine large commercial buildings putting up a batch of these things on their roofs.
FLAGSTAFF - AZ, November 7, 2006/PRNewswire/ -- Today Southwest Windpower announced its newest product, the Skystream 3.7™, has been awarded a 2006 Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science in the Home category. Each year, Popular Science reviews thousands of new products and innovations and includes the top 100 winners in its annual Best of What’s New issue. To win, a product or technology must represent a significant step forward in its category.
“Best of What’s New is the ultimate Popular Science accolade, representing a year’s worth of work evaluating thousands of projects,” said Mark Jannot, editor of Popular Science. “These awards honor innovations that not only influence the way we live today, but that change the way we think about the future.”
Skystream is a next-generation residential power appliance that hooks up to the home to help reduce or eliminate monthly electricity costs. Skystream is the first compact, user-friendly, all-inclusive wind generator (with controls and inverter built in) designed to provide quiet, clean electricity in very low winds. With Skystream, homeowners and small business owners now have the power to choose their electricity source.
For the sake of argument let us grant them their assertion that in many homes in California the Skystream can pay itself back in 12 years or even 7 years with government rebates. So should people in the rest of the United States (or the world for that matter) rush to buy Skystreams for their homes? That depends on local conditions, and not just wind conditions.
First off, that payback time depends on the ability to sell back excess electricity to your local electric utility when the wind is blowing hard and you are not using much electricity. Now, if you always use lots of electricity that might not matter. But if you live in an area where you can't sell back excess electricity and your energy usage is highly uneven then that'll make the payback time much longer.
Second, electric costs vary considerably around the United States. Electricity costs more in California than in most states. In 2006 (and all these numbers are up sharply from 2005) California's electricity is about 14.52 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh) and in New England it costs about 16.23 cents per kwh with 16.72 per kwh in New York (wow!) versus a US national average of 10.41. The mountain states pay only 9.01 and Wyoming only 7.68. Other really cheap states (generally heavy users of coal but with hydro power too) include Tennessee and Utah at 7.7, .Missouri at 7.62, Nebraska at 7,48, North Dakota at 7.11, and South Dakota at 7.87. Down at the bottom are coal states Kentucky at 7.08 and West Virginia at 6.25. Idaho appears to have the cheapest electricity in America at 6.23 cents per kwh. Outside of New England and Californa the two other high cost electric states are Alaska at 14.74 and Hawaii at an incredible 23.53.
If you live in one of higher cost states then you should find out if you can sell electricity back to your utility. If you live in Hawaii and get a fair amount of wind then the ability to sell electricity your utility probably doesn't matter. These Skystream gadgets could be just the ticket to lower electric power costs.
Unless you live in a pretty windy place it would be imprudent to install one of these things without first installing some sort of cumulative wind speed measuring device at the same altitude as you'd install this device. Or find some other way to find out what your typical wind speeds work out to.
If you live in a lower cost electricity state then you save less in two ways. First off, when you use less utility power you save less money. Second, if you can even sell electric power back to your utility you earn back less money off your electric bill.
Cheap home wind power will make battery powered cars more desirable. Imagine we get cheap high energy density batteries that'll power a car for a couple hundred miles. That'd make all undependable energy sources (e.g. wind, solar, even hydropower from streams that run only when it rains) more attractive. You come home at night, plug in the car to the wind mill, and it charges only part of the time.
With batteries to charge up you won't care whether the wind blows in the afternoon, evening, or early morning. You won't even care if it blows every day. If your car can go hundreds of miles you don't need for it to get recharged every day. You just need to average enough to keep your car ready to go.
The restrictions on wind tower installation in suburban and urban environments makes photovoltaics a better longer term bet for local generation using renewable energy sources. But photovoltaics still cost much more than wind and utility power. For people living in rural areas home wind power could become pretty popular. It will deliver power even in the short days of winter when photovoltaics will deliver less electricity. Also, it will complement solar even in the summer by delivering some power at night.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2006 November 26 10:55 AM Energy Wind|