Off-Grid Distributed Wind Systems FAQ

Off-Grid Distributed Wind Systems FAQ

Advantages of distributed wind systems

  • Increase the renewable energy supply fraction
  • Reduce back-up generator operation and fuel consumption
  • Increase battery life; more renewable energy and less fuel and energy cycled through batteries
  • Supplement available solar energy at night, during rainy seasons, and in the winter
  • Reliable, high-energy output during storms for batteries that benefit from equalization

How do they work?

The wind turbine, which is installed on top of a tall tower, collects wind energy and converts it into electricity. The electricity is used to charge batteries, reduce the fuel consumption on a diesel generator, or drive a pump. Since the wind is intermittent, some sort of storage is usually incorporated into the system and back-up generators are often used.

Hybrid schematic

What applications are they used for?

Distributed wind turbines are commonly used for rural electrification of:

  • Schools
  • Clinics
  • Administration offices
  • Homes
  • Farms
  • Villages
  • Small industries

Pika picThese types of projects can often be completed less expensively and more quickly with renewable energy, such as wind power, than by extending the utility grid.

Distributed wind turbines are also used to reduce operating costs at off-grid cell phone sites. Properly sized wind/solar hybrid systems have been shown to save 70-90% of diesel fuel consumption and reduce diesel run times from 100% to ~10%. Distributed wind systems are also saving operating costs at numerous military sites around the world. These systems are particularly cost-effective where fuel is flown in by helicopter. Theft of distributed wind systems at remote sites is also much less likely than with solar PV and provides additional system security and reliability.

What is needed for an off-grid distributed wind system?

In addition to a sufficient wind resource, an off-grid distributed wind system typically consists of a wind turbine, tower, charge controller, inverter, batteries, and system controls. Each system should be uniquely designed for the particular application and load requirements.

Where can I find more information?

For more information, please contact one of the U.S. off-grid wind turbine manufacturers listed below. For information on wind energy and its use in developing countries, please see the Alliance for Rural Electrification, Brussels, website:

bergey logo