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Wind Turbine Site Assessment


While the wind is free, it is often unsteady and unpredictable. North Carolina’s wind resources are mainly located along the coastal regions and ridge lines in the mountain regions. Most wind turbine generators start producing electric power with wind speeds of approximately 8 MPH although not sufficient to produce much power. Full power is achieved at wind speeds of 18-23 MPH. Extreme, powerful wind gusts during storms including lightning strikes can damage the mechanical equipment and cause rotor blades to fail.

As an example of wind turbine performance, a Whisper 500 wind turbine speed versus power curve and power production graphs are shown below.

Performance Curves Graph

North Carolina wind profile maps can be found at the county level on the Appalachian State University website:

Local Regulations
Check with the local building inspectors and planning staff to make sure you are allowed to put up a tower and wind turbine. Do not forget to talk with your neighbors.

Site Location
Access to “clear” wind will be a tower placing the turbine 20-30 feet above nearby buildings and trees allowing space for the tower guy wires to secure the tower.

Average Wind Speed
After viewing the wind profile maps from the website given verify the average wind speed with an anemometer. The data optimally should be for 12 months.


Author: William D. Wright, PE
NABCEP - Certified PV Installer


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