Wind Turbines can save energy and money
Have my neighbours done this?
What is it?
This is a device to capture free wind energy to generate electricity
What will it save me?
It saves having to buy some of your electricity and earns you an income from the Feed in Tariffs
How do I get it?
You'll need a windy location, planning permission and the services of a specialist contractor
What does it cost?
Anything from a few thousand pounds upwards. The bigger the turbine the more effective they become
What are the technical details?
The government target is to achieve 15% of our electricity generation from renewable technologies by 2020 and much of this will be from large scale wind farms with many offshore.
Although wind energy is intermittent, there are some areas where it's stronger and more regular and these are the best places to site wind turbines. The energy available from wind depends on location, the height and length of the turbine blades and the proximity to other natural and manmade obstructions. It can be an effective way to generate significant amounts of electricity.
It's certainly true that the UK has a greater potential wind resource than other European countries because of its island location off the west coast of Europe. However, there are some locations even there that are simply technically unsuitable.
There are two main types of wind turbine, most being of a horizontal axis design with vertical propeller type blades that turn with the force of the wind. This turns a horizontal shaft in the generator to make electricity. The other type has a vertical axis with curved aerofoils mounted above the turbine turning a vertical shaft and tend to quieter but more expensive.
A 6kW turbine mounted in an ideal location could produce up to 10,000kWh a year and save over 5 tonnes CO2. Most domestic size installations will be less than 2kW ideally mounted on a pole away from the building but some are fixed to the building and are likely to be affected by wind turbulence.
Ideally, an average wind speed of around 6m/sec is required and a location in open countryside. To check the average wind speed in the area use the calculator provided by the Encraft website. Even then, the location of buildings and trees may cause enough wind turbulence to dramatically reduce its effectiveness. If the house has a large garden it should be possible to post mount a turbine away from obstructions. Different designs of turbines perform better in some locations.
So while the energy generated from small individual house or garden turbines may be marginal, there are opportunities for some suitably located rural communities to get together to install a communally owned turbine which could produce a profitable amount of energy and possibly qualify for Feed in Tariffs as well.
Small turbines may be possible to make and install at home to charge a battery as a DIY project, but it is unlikely to contribute to electricity needs. If a more substantial one is installed it would certainly require a professional contractor and would also require planning permission.