What the best approach to start a personal wind energy farm?

First of, its not by eating a whole lot of baked beans, though I can see what that would yield to!
On a serious note, individual investment into a wind farm can often be too costly, and a point of envy for the neighbors. A great was to get started on a personal wind farm is to involve the neighbors. For reasons that would immediately be understood by you, however, let me amplify.
(a) Start with education. You can contact your neighbors and ask them to attend a voluntary educational get together you are doing on ‘alternative’ energy (don’t just stick to Wind farm, just as yet). This is perhaps the hardest part. You will meet resistance, you will have no shows and you will need to shampoo-rinse-repeat many times over. But do not worry. Your delivery pitch will only get better. You will learn revise your presentation and also you will learn to document and research the areas in alternative energy better.
(b). Your education process will be a long one. Do it over a Bar-BQ, or drinks, or a visit to each household on the weekend with your laptop and do a 30 minute presentation. If your presentation invokes an interest (which it should), these neighbors of yours will also be compelled to learn/read about alternative energy.

(c). Your next goal is to make them ‘game’ of “How about we all pitch in and setup something?” A farm of anything (solar, wind etc.) will require permits (perhaps), cooperation from neighbors, and land. The more the merrier, but do not make the project too big. Make a small committee (people love being on a committee, and give assignments and titles). It just makes the whole cause more legit and serious.

(d) When you make an effort on a community level (30-50 houses), you will be taken more seriously by financial institutions and the companies that deliver wind farms, etc. (usually they have a mechanism to fund you as well – depending on the geography you are operating on).

(e) The goal should be ‘small’ to start off with, something where say A porch light in all the houses can be started (bad example, but nothing better is coming to mind right now). You can divide the costs amongst the 20, 30 or 50 households, it will be very much affordable and provide great insight on how to get started with your experimental project (and that is what it should be termed as). An experimental project. So if things don’t work out, everyone is in agreement, its no biggie.

(f) Contact some commercial vendors in this field and ask them to come around and make presentations. The numbers they will throw at you (depending on the salesmen) will vary. It could be horrendously expensive or too cheap-too-good-to-be-true. Either way, you goal is to have many of them visit, do a survey and propose some solution. Let the companies work and find a solution for you.

(g) Once you have a solution in place and financials, see which is the most appropriate one and have your committee vote on it – or make a decision and go with it.

One area I would definitely recommend you research is Vertical Axis Wind Turbines – which is a preferred design for small wind farms and the designs have improved a lot.

Your best approach is to take your neighbors into consideration, as the economies of scale and the sanity of the project will be in your favor. There is guaranteed not to be any NIMBY (Not-In-My-Backyard) people. Green technology everyone loves and promote. It is being taught all around from children to adults and everyone knows this is the right thing to do.

Good luck.

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