Wind turbines are a great way, in the right conditions, to harness “free” energy from the wind. Their operation is simple, the wind turns the blades which are connected to a shaft which turns a generator which in turns produces electricity. They can be connected to the mains power supply for properties on the National Grid or can power batteries for properties are not.
A wind turbine is expensive to install and it will probably still be necessary to import some electricity from the National Grid but thanks to the introduction of the Feed-In Tariffs it should pay for itself and start making a profit in around 8 – 10 years, though this is [more] subject to change !
How Much Will a Wind Turbine Cost to Install?
Depending on the size of the wind turbine the cost of buying the product itself and having it installed will range from as little as £500 to as much as £50,000, though for a 6kW system, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes, it should cost around £23,000.
Is a Wind Turbine Suitable For My Property?
For a wind turbine to be effective it must be placed in a location with an average wind speed of no less than 4.5m/s. The good news is that 40% of the wind that blows throughout Europe blows across the UK. Nonetheless in urban or suburban areas man made obstructions will often reduce wind speeds unnaturally and prevent a turbine from being effective. There are many tools on the internet which will provide an estimated average wind speed for a particular post code but there are a number of local variables that these tools cannot take into account. If you are seriously considering investing in a turbine then it is advisable to measure the actual wind speed with a meter, over a period of say three months. The best locations are exposed rural locations, particularly on a hill.
How Much Energy Will a Wind Turbine Produce?
Again this depends on the size of the turbine and of course the amount of wind, but a 6kW system might produce around 10,000 kWh of energy per year on average. It is important to get a more accurate estimate before deciding whether to invest in a domestic wind turbine and you should speak to at least two installers.
Will a Wind Turbine Only Produce Energy on Windy Days?
Obviously a wind turbine can only produce electricity when the wind is blowing. It does not have to be blowing a gale, a wind speed of 5m/s is sufficient, but in still weather it will not produce power. If the property is connected to the National Grid then electricity will need to be purchased during these times, if it is not not then electricity can be stored in batteries for use in still weather.
Will I Be Able to Use all of the Energy Produced?
There will often be times when the turbine is producing more power than is needed. If the property is not connected to the National Grid the surplus energy can be stored in batteries for later use. If it is connected the surplus can be exported to the grid, in which case, if the owner has signed up to the feed-in tariff, he will be entitled to a payment of 3p per kWh.
Could I Get a Grant Toward the Installation Cost?
Although a grant scheme was in place, this has unfortunately come to an end, though its replacement, the Feed-In Tariff, which pays you for the energy you produce, is almost certainly more financially beneficial.
Could I Get a Loan To Cover the Installation Cost?
There are a number of schemes being discussed but for now, if you have enough equity, you may consider increasing your current mortgage. Interest rates are very low at the moment and a mortgage, although riskier because it is secured against your property, will always be cheaper than an unsecured loan.
How Much Would I Save in Fuel Bills?
This is difficult to estimate since it depends entirely on how much wind the turbine is exposed to, which is obviously variable, however a turbine in a suitable location might be expected to produce at least half of your energy needs. The average home will use 4,400kWh of electricity per year. At a current average cost of 13.5p per/kWh this equates to a total bill of £594, so saving half of this would equate to almost £300. On its own this saving is not enough (from a financial standpoint) to justify the initial purchase and installation costs however the feed-in tariff (see below) could make a significant difference.
What is the Feed-In Tariff and How Much Could I Receive?
The feed-in tariff is a state incentive introduced to encourage us all to produce our own renewable energy in order to help the government to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets. It works by paying people a fixed amount for every kWh of renewable energy used. Once a renewable energy source, such as a wind turbine, is installed a proper owner can register it with Ofgem and he is then entitled to be paid an annual sum equal to the number of kWhs used multiplied by the tariff, which in the case of a wind turbine between 1.5 – 15 watts (which will cover domestic installations) is 26.7p.
If half the energy produced in used by the property then this should equal around 2,200 kWh or a payment of almost £600. In addition the excess of around 8,000kWh can be sold back to the National Grid at 3p per kWh. This equates to around £240.
Is Installing a Wind Turbine Cost Effective?
A 6kW system will cost around £23,000 and this is the probably the maximum you can expect to pay, in fact a cheaper system may well be sufficient. If half your annual electricity usage can be supplied by the turbine this equates to a feed-in tariff payment of around £600 per annum and a fuel bill saving of around £300. Added to this is a payment of perhaps £240 per annum for electricity sold back to the National Grid giving a total annual profit of £1,140. This is potentially a very conservative estimate but even so the system would pay for itself in the 20 years for which the tariff is guaranteed. Thereafter any fuel savings are pure profit.
Do I Need Planning Permission to Install a Wind Turbine?
Planning permission will be required and a planning application should be made before commissioning a system. You will need to know the location, height and blade diameter as a minimum. The good news is that councils have been issued a directive to take a positive view when it comes to applications involving the installation of renewable energy systems.
What Maintenance Do Wind Turbines Need?
Very little maintenance should be required. Maintenance checks should be carried out every few years.
How Long Do Wind Turbines Last?
A well maintained turbine should last over 20 years.