Micro wind generation

Micro wind generation

Wind turbines work by converting the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. Most modern systems use horizontal axis wind turbines with three or five blades rotating around a central hub. Vertical axis wind turbines are less common and generally less efficient.

House and wind turbine sketch

Q. Are all houses suitable for a wind turbine?

A. Firstly you need to decide if it is electrical energy that you require; if it is then a wind turbine may be suitable. If it is heat energy that you need then a solar thermal or a biofuels system would be more appropriate.

A wind turbine works most efficiently in a smooth, steady airflow, so local terrain can have a great influence on its efficiency. Trees, buildings and other tall landscape features can obstruct the prevailing wind or create turbulence. 

A wind turbine fixed to a building may also be unsuitable for structural or visual reasons. In this situation a remote location away from the house may be possible.

Q. Do wind turbines affect wildlife?

A. There is some concern about the potential effects of wind turbines on birds and bats that make their homes in buildings. Roosting and nesting sites, access points and flight paths all need to be considered in any assessment of the impact a wind turbine, its installation and subsequent maintenance. Natural England should be consulted at an early stage in the planning of a wind turbine installation of any size if it is likely to affect the habitat of protected wildlife.

Q. How much electricity does a wind turbine generate?

A. The amount of energy that a turbine can generate depends on its size, location, wind speed, nearby buildings and the local terrain. A 1.5 kW (kilowatt) turbine can produce 4,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) per year, a 2.5 kW turbine 2,500 to 5,000 kW per year and a 6 kW turbine, 6,000 to 12,000 kWh per year. The average UK household uses around 4000 kWh a year.

Q. What is the difference between a grid- connected and a stand- alone system?

A. Where no mains electricity is available, a wind turbine can be used to replace or supplement the existing local electricity supply (a diesel generator, for example) to supply a house. Batteries can also be used to store energy generated by the turbine for later use. 

If a house is already linked to the national grid a wind turbine can be used to supplement the mains supply.  When the wind turbine is not generating enough energy, mains electricity is used. If the turbine generates more electricity than is needed, the excess can be exported to the national grid by agreement with the regional electricity company.

Q. How much does a micro wind turbine cost?

A. A 1.5kW wind turbine will cost £3,000- £5,000, for a 2.5 kW turbine £10,000- £16,000 and 6kW turbine £16,000 -£25,000. (2007 prices)

Q. What grants are available for micro-generation technologies for householders?

A. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) run a Low Carbon Buildings Programme that provides grants for micro-generation technologies for householders www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk.

Q. How can you find an Installer?

A. Recipients of Low Carbon Buildings Programme grants must use accredited installers and materials. The list of accredited installers is a useful resource even if you are not applying for a grant for all types of renewable technologies.

Q. Is planning permission needed to install a small wind turbine on my house?

See What approvals do I need?



Micro-wind generation and traditional buildings

Micro-wind generation and traditional buildings

The micro wind generation guide takes you through what you need to think about when planning a wind turbine installation. The guide explains the different options available for locating and fixing wind turbines without causing damage to the building fabric.

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