There's wind up in them thar thermals!
Modern day wind prospectors have a bevy of tools at their disposal in the hunt for a good strong blow. The first they often turn to are online interactive wind speed maps, most of which run as Google Maps mashups. Google Maps allows anyone with the technical know-how to add in data layers on top of their geographic maps.
FirstLook is an easy to use site that allows you to view wind speed data for three different elevations — 20, 50, and 80 meters. Wind gets stronger the higher you go up so taller turbines pull down more electricity. The map is free to use, a complete in-depth report is available for sale for any location. Standard reports, which break down things like the windspeed and power capacity by months, run $1,000 and $2,500 will get you some extra sets of info and a data file.
Professional wind farm developers don't hesitate to drop a couple of grand on wind reports but the basic report might not be a bad option for a home owner thinking of putting up a turbine, in some situations. Over the lifetime of larger home turbine, $1,000 could pay itself back over again if mapping indicates bankable stronger wind in different locations on the land or at different elevations.
At the very least, it's a cool and easy tool to use to get a quick read on how strong the wind is in your area.
Here in Maine, there is pretty strong wind on the coast and in the mountains at 20 meters. Making the big jump up to 80 meters yields huge swaths of lusciously windy sky space in large parts but especially in the northern half of the state.
Another site, AWS Truewind's windNavigator, has data available for 60, 80, and 100 meters and has higher resolution data, giving you a better picture of the wind potential than FirstLook, though you're cut off from anything below 60 meters.
windNavigator is also free and sells detailed reports based on either a state or an area defined by the customer.
Technology is awesome.
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