Converting MW to Homes

A recent article stated that one MW of wind power provides enough electricity to power 1000 homes (1, 2). This claim was later qualified by stating that “sources such as wind and solar are often operating at less than full capacity” (3).

Actually the largest possible value is 800 houses per Megawatt. Last year wind in Ohio produced enough electricity for about 250 homes and solar about 125 homes (See Appendix).

References:

(1) Wind energy poised for growth in Ohio, advocates say, The Columbus Dispatch, October 30, 2016

(2) Tom Stacy offered a correction in the Comments section of Ref. (1). Unfortunately he used faulty logic.

(2) AEP wins profit guarantee sought in coal-fired power case, The Columbus Dispatch, November 3, 2016

Appendix: Calculations

One Megawatt generating electricity for one year (8760 hours) would produce 8760 MWh. Since the average home uses about 11 MWh (= 11,000 kWh) of electricity each year, this is enough electricity for 8760/11 = 796 homes.

Since Ohio generated 1.2 million MWh of electricity from wind in 2015, wind provides enough energy for about 110,000 homes. Ohio has 432 MW of wind power – 110,000/432 is about 250. So one MW of power provides electricity equal to that used by about 250 homes.

Comparable numbers for solar are 162,000 MWh total electricity and 119 MW of power. This translates to 14,700 homes and 14,700/119 = 124 homes per MW.

(Data from Energy Information Administration for 2015, except solar capacity from Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 4, 2016)