Wind turbines use the wind to produce electrical power. A generator is equipped with fan blades and placed at the top of a tall tower. The tower is tall in order to harness the wind at a greater velocity, free of turbulence caused by interference from ground obstacles such as trees, hills and buildings. As the turbine rotates in the wind, the generator produces electrical power. A single wind turbine can range in size from a few kW for residential applications to more than 5 MW.
The majority of California's installed wind turbine capacity is located in several large-scale wind farms, including:
Tehachapi - 623.9 MW
Altamont Pass - 544.5 MW
San Gorgonio - 273.3 MW
Solano - 65.1 MW
Pacheco Pass - 16.4 MW
The remaining capacity is from smaller scale wind farms or residential turbines.
Generally, individual wind turbines are grouped into wind farms containing several turbines. Many wind farms are MW scale, ranging from a few MW to tens of MW. Wind farms or smaller wind projects may be connected directly to utility distribution systems. The larger wind farms are often connected to sub-transmission lines. The small-scale wind farms and individual units are typically defined as distributed generation. Residential systems (5-15 kW) are available; however they are generally not suitable for urban or small-lot suburban homes due to large space requirements.