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Domestic Wind Power
     
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Using domestic wind power

Using a wind powered turbine to generate domestic electricity can help to reduce your carbon footprint. The Energy Saving Trust estimate that by 2050, small scale wind turbines could be generating 30-40% of all UK electricity needs. A number of different types of wind turbine are now on the market, making domestic wind power more viable. And the new feed-in tariffs mean you can be paid for energy you produce and recoup your initial investment two or three times over.

Different types of technology
Domestic wind turbines can either be large free standing units or smaller building integrated designs. Different styles of turbine (see images below) allow for either the horizontal wind typical of hill tops (horizontal axis) or the more turbulent and often vertical wind conditions found in urban areas (vertical axis). These systems can generate energy ranging from a few kWh per year to over 15,000kWh per year. As a guide, the average household uses about 3600kWh per year. There is therefore certainly the potential for a household to generate all its electricity from wind power, providing the site is suitably windy and has an appropriate space/ strong wall on which to install the turbine.

Cost Effectiveness
The cost effectiveness of a domestic wind turbine depends on the site and the type of turbine installed. All wind installations need an average wind speed of at least 4.5 metres per second (m/s) and will perform best at above 5-6 m/s. You can find the average wind speed for your grid reference or postcode area online. This may not take into account local factors – a valley location will get much less wind than a nearby hilltop, for example. In particular, wind turbines are not recommended for urban areas due to turbulence from neighbouring buildings.

Because neither wind speed nor your electricity needs are constant, you will still need a mains supply for when you can’t generate enough. However, new two-way meters coupled with the feed-in tariffs incentive (see below) make it possible to sell excess electricity back to the national grid. This will make a significant difference to the cost effectiveness of installation. Generally, larger turbines will pay for themselves more quickly than smaller ones. Ultimately, the location and size of site and the amount of energy required dictates the type of turbine to be purchased. We recommend you consult a professional installer or manufacturer.

Feed-In Tariffs
Feed In Tariffs (FITS) is a Government-backed initiative to make it more worthwhile installing renewable or low carbon energy technology, including wind turbines, in your home, business or community. By using a special two-way meter, FITS allows you to sell electricity into the national grid at a higher rate than you would buy it. Fully insulating your home and using as many energy saving technologies as possible will maximise your income from the scheme. In addition, you get paid for any energy you produce, even if you use it all yourself. Thirdly, even if you’re not fortunate enough to become self sufficient in electricity, the amount you have to buy in from your supplier will drastically reduce.

The exact amount earned and saved depends on the type and scale of the technology. Generally, over the lifetime of the tariff you will easily recoup the initial investment. The tariffs will be index linked to allow for inflation.

To qualify for FITS payments you must use an MCS registered supplier or installer. Generally, small-scale wind installations will not need planning permission unless you are in a listed building or conservation area but you should check with your local authority first.

Further Information:

Suppliers and Installers
Please note that this list is not exhaustive.The companies listed are offered as a starting point for enquiries but with no implied recommendation of any product or service.

v3power.co.uk are based in Belper and build, install and maintain small wind turbines. They also provide free impartial advice on renewable systems in general but with a specialism in small wind.

Britwind - 01509 215669 - britwind.co.uk

Proven (who make land-rover grade fantastic machines) have been bought by Kingspan (the insulation people) but continue to make and install great turbines

A favourite machine in this class is the Bergey XL10 -bergey.com - an American made machine that is very reliable.

Gaia continue to make their sucessful 2 bladed low windspeed machine
in Glasgow.

MCS Registered Products and In­stallers
Approved FITS scheme installers - 020 7090 1082 – www.microgenerationcertification.org
Energy Saving Trust - 0800 512012 – www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Centre for Alternative Technology - 01564 705950 – www.cat.org.uk
European Wind Energy Association - www.ewea.org

Supplier and Installer Directories
www.accessrenewables.co.uk
www.realassurance.org.uk

Information compiled by Marches Energy Agency June 2010 – www.mea.org.uk
 

 

photo - assembling wind turbine blades

photo - small horizontal axis wind turbine

Horizontal axis wind turbines can be building or floor mounted. They work best with horizontal wind flow and come in a range of sizes.

 

photo - vertical axis wind turbine

Vertical axis wind turbines can also be building or floor mounted. They work with both horizontal and vertical wind flows and also come in a range of sizes.

 

photo - large wind turbine

 
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