Many cottagers have been wondering about using wind to power some or all of the electrical needs for their cottage. How do you know if you have enough wind at your cottage to make the investment in wind power generation worth while? It is a good idea to record the wind speed at your cottage for about one year. This way you can determine your annual average wind speed. If you know this number you can determine which wind electric system will be best for your cottage, or if you have enough wind at all.

It is best to collect your own wind data or hire a company to collect this data for you at your site. This can be done using existing data, or creating our own data using anemometers and wind vane equipment. Wind vane equipment can be very site specific, and builds a great database and sample snap shot. Capturing the data usually requires a good location to be chosen, reasonable access, and hopefully within AMPS cell phone coverage.

Airport wind data is not always a good source as their instruments are designed to look for wind generation energy. Instead airports are trying to find wind shear and so they take their measurements too close to the ground. Wind reading sites set up in Ontario by the Ministry of Environment are often placed in poor locations and give poor wind readings. One example of this is the data collected for Lake Nippissing. The data is collected at the dock in downtown North Bay.

You can tell some areas must be windy by the way the trees are so deformed by the wind. This is called Flagging. You can see this around Muskoka and the shores of Georgian Bay. Flagging can by a useful tool in visually determining the wind speed and direction. In most regions this flagging is prominent on one or 2 trees that stick out above the rest, however as seen along Georgian Bay, the majority of plant life is affected. While the flagging identifies that there is a wind resource, we should not ignore the other case where no flagging exists should not be interpreted as no wind. Flagging is usually associated with coniferous (evergreens) and is usually absent in hardwood trees.

Wind turbines produce power in wind speeds above about 13 km/hour. In most places where wind turbines are located, the wind would be above this speed 70-80% of the time. Production then increases until it hits a maximum power produced at 55 km/hour. Wind turbines will typically shut down at wind speeds above 90 km/hour for safety reasons. These numbers will vary depending on the model of turbine selected.