Small Wind Energy Systems

Small wind energy systems can supply cheap, clean, renewable energy to residential, rural, and small business owners. The California Wind Energy Collaborative is committed to spreading practical knowledge about these systems to the public. We are offering a one day course to teach people about small wind systems and what it takes to make the wind work for you. We have installed a Bergey XL.1 small wind turbine here on the UC Davis campus. This installation helps facilitate learning both on and off campus through CWEC’s education programs.

What is Small Wind?

Small wind energy systems are a reliable and low maintenance way to produce electricity in your own backyard. They typically generate 1 to 10 kW of power and range from 9 to 25 feet in diameter. They are used both where electric power is not readily available (off grid) and where they are plugged directly into the existing utility grid (on grid).

In California, and many other states, turbines that are connected to the utility grid can take advantage of net metering. Net metering tracks the extra energy you produce when it’s windy to offset energy you use when the wind does not blow. So, if your turbine is generating more energy than you are using, your meter will spin backwards! The result is that the customer is billed only for the net energy consumed during the billing period.

Is Small Wind for me?

While a small wind turbine remains one of the most economical generation systems to own, there are many factors to consider before investing in one.

  • Is your site windy?
  • Do you have room for a tower?
  • Can you afford to invest with a payback period of 7-10 years?
  • Would you like to reduce your carbon footprint?
  • Would you like to reduce your dependence on fossil fuel?
  • Would you like to reduce your monthly energy bills?
  • Would you like to help ease demand on the power grid?

These questions and many more are addressed in our Small Wind Energy Systems course.

Small Wind Energy Systems Course Curriculum

Installation of a small wind turbine is one of the most economical ways for a home or business to reduce their electric bill and begin developing energy independence. The course presents the basic science and economics of small wind energy systems and provides practical information on selecting, installing, and owning such a system. Participants will leave the course knowing how to assess the wind energy potential at their site, how to select an appropriate system for their needs, and how to navigate the permitting and installation processes required to get their small turbine up and running.

Course Curriculum

8:00 – 8:30
8:30 – 9:30
9:30 – 10:30
10:30 – 11:30
11:30 – 1:00
1:30 – 2:30
2:30 – 3:30
3:30 – 4:30
4:30 – 5:00

Overview of Wind Energy
Resource Assessment & Energy Production
Lunch & Interactive Demo Stations
System Configurations

This course is led by C.P. (Case) van Dam, Director of CWEC, Warren and Leta Giedt Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis and will also include speakers from the Collaborative staff and experts from industry and the California Energy Commission.

The Small Wind Energy Systems class is part of a series of courses currently being developed by the California Wind Energy Collaborative to meet the public’s growing interest and need for practical information about wind-based electric power generation.

Course Dates

No classes currently scheduled.

Resources for Local Government Authorities

CWEC has compiled a list of references for local government authorities seeking general, planning, economic, and technical information on small wind. While targeted toward decision makers at the local government level, anyone interested in small wind will find this information useful. Click here to go to the reference list.


If you have any questions about the Small Wind Energy Systems course or small wind systems in general, please e-mail us at