More and more, people are looking to using the wind to generate power. Wind farms are sprouting up everywhere, both on the land and offshore, and individuals are installing them on their land, and even on their houses – Conservative leader David Cameron has one.
They work well alongside solar and other green forms of energy generation, and use a source that’s infinitely renewable. Given that Britain, for the most part, is a very windy place – the windiest in Europe, in fact – it makes sense to harness that energy and lower your carbon footprint.
What You Need
The first thing to discover is how windy it is where you live. That means some research online, or you can simply use an anemometer to gauge the wind and its speed. The more it blows, the better the wind turbine operates.
Above all, you need to have a good site for it. Sticking it on your chimney might look green, but in most cases it’s really not going to be worth your while (which is why you see far more wind turbines in the country than in the city). In fact, there are plenty of factors working against city siting of a turbine. It becomes all too easy to damage it through turbulence since you generally can’t site it solidly enough.
That said, a new generation of micro turbines is making city installation more and more feasible, and the cost keeps coming down, meaning it takes less time to achieve payback.
What a Wind Turbine can do
A single wind turbine can provide up to 30% of your electricity, although the costs can run as high as £18,000, meaning a long-term payback. But even the tiniest system can power batteries, and that all adds up.
How much can they lower your carbon footprint? Obviously, it depends on the size. But with, say, a full-size turbine, it could go as high as 300 kg a year, which is an impressive figure.
These days it’s not difficult to obtain a government grant through the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. It won’t pay for the whole thing, but you can receive government money for up to 30% of the costs.
Unfortunately, the turbine itself isn’t the only piece of kit you need to generate electricity. You’ll also need an inverter, which transforms the DC current generated into AC current you can actually use, and that will set you back around another £1000.
One of the main complaints from people who live near wind farms is the noise, although the mechanisms are supposed to be largely silent. But even single turbines can create some noise, and if they’re sited close to a house, that can become a problem. Even more so are the vibrations, which can be serious with turbines installed directly on the house. You need to investigate this thoroughly first for your ongoing comfort.
There’s no doubt that wind turbines are a growing technology, one that can work not only on the massive scale of wind farms, but for individuals to lower their carbon footprints. As it advances, they’re likely to become a far more common sight.