We’ve seen them dotted across the countryside: tall, thin, white structures bearing a striking resemblance to the Mercedes Benz insignia. Children may giggle at the idea of ‘wind farms’, but grownups opening their quarterly energy bill knows the ever-increasing costs are no laughing matter.
The idea of a home wind turbine producing enough electricity to power your home is exciting. Imagine the savings, both to your bank account and the planet?But is it practical or even affordable? Let’s look at the facts.
Frequently asked questions about wind turbines
What is a wind turbine?
A wind turbine is a modern day windmill. It changes kinetic energy created by wind into electricity. Wind-powered electricity has become an essential source of renewable energy in the United Kingdom.
How do they work?
Think of the way a household upright fan works. It uses electricity to produce wind. A wind turbine uses wind to produce electricity. The element of wind rotates the blades and this causes the generator inside the Nacelle (the long piece the blades are attached to) to spin, which produces direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter changes DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which provides the renewable energy for your home.
The consumption of electricity is measured kilowatt hours. The average household requires just over 900kwh of energy per month, which equates to nearly 11,000kwh per year. Assuming you have favourable wind speeds in your area, a wind turbine rating of 5-15 kilowatts would be save you a considerable amount of money on your energy bill.
How much are they?
Roof mounted wind turbines are cheaper to install and maintain, but aren’t as effective. You can expect it to contribute to the cost of powering your home. It’s pretty much guaranteed a roof mounted wind turbine will not generate enough electricity for you to benefit from the Feed in Tariff. This is the scheme where you can be paid for excess electricity you produce for your household. Roof mounted wind turbines range in power from 0.5kw to 2.5kw. You can expect to pay around £2,000, with additional annual maintenance costs up to about £200.
A freestanding wind turbine costs more and is even more dependent on your location, budget and need. For instance, a 1.5kw turbine generates about 2,500kw annually and costs approximately £7,000. Average households in the UK can expect to consume around 3,700kw per year. The range of a freestanding wind turbine extends up to 100kw. They’re built to last up to 25 years, and you’ll need to factor replacement parts into your maintenance costs.
How long to pay for itself
Within as little as eight months you can expect to have generated enough ‘cumulative energy payback’ from a wind turbine built to last 20 years.
Measuring wind speed
The anemometer located near the weather vane captures and communicates wind data to the controller. The controller initiates a starting speed between eight to 15 mph. Top speed is capped at 55 mph to protect the gear box from damage during stronger winds. You are looking for wind speeds measuring upwards of five metres per second for a wind turbine to produce results for your household.
Who can get one?
Anyone with access to a steady source of prevailing wind and living in a free standing home can get a wind turbine. However there are detailed requirements, some requiring costly planning permission. You will not be able to install your wind turbine if you do not meet these requirements.
Are there any grants?
There are no grants available at a national level. It is, however, worth checking with your local authorities. Some regions are offering funding for local projects.
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