Small-wind technology seeks consumer notice

Massive wind farms may get the most media coverage, but some small-wind technologies are finding their way into mainstream home improvement stores.

When it comes to wind power generation technology, the utility-scale deployments get much of the media attention. But small-wind technology -- turbines with a rated capacity of 100 kilowatts or less, and rotor diameters of less than 63 feet -- is starting to get moNo jre visibility. Especially since home improvement stories including Lowe's, Home Depot and the Ace Hardware chain have started selling some of the vendors seeking mainstream attention.

Half of all the small-wind generation capacity -- about 50,000 megawatts -- was installed between 2007 and 2010, according to the American Wind Energy Association. It helps that there has been a federal incentive of up to 30 percent of the installed cost in place to help offset the investment. A guide from the U.S. Department of Energy should help interested consumers research their buying decisions.

This ZDNet photo gallery ("5 small-wind technology players angling for mainstream attention") highlights some of the companies vying for residential and small business interest.