Generate Your Own Energy: Micro Wind Turbines
It’s the latest in green fashion good for the environment and even David Cameron’s house is sporting one – a home wind turbine. Amid growing awareness that our fossil fuels are running out, CO2 emissions are rising and so too are our energy bills, more and more people are taking matters into their own hands and installing wind turbines in the home.
There’s a compelling environmental argument for generating our own energy. Research from the Energy Saving Trust suggests that micro generation, with enough people backing it, could provide 30% to 40% of the UK's electricity by the middle of the century. Wind turbines would form a large part of this.
But where do you get started, how much work does it involve and how much will it cost? There are a lot of questions around generating your own energy, but getting started is surprisingly simple. Here is a step by step guide to help you get to know the basics.
Is Wind Right For You?Before taking the plunge, you need to decide if installing a wind turbine is the best option for you. It may well be that the wind conditions in your local area do not suit this type of micro generation, and that an alternative option may be more effective.
You can research local wind speeds by contacting the British Wind Association. They may also be able to advise you on suppliers, prices and other things you’ll need to take into consideration.
Make Your Plans OfficialIf you’re installing anything that changes the appearance of your home, you will need to get the thumbs up from your local council before you start any work. Contact your council’s planning department to start the procedure.
Obtaining planning permission will involve the council informing the people living in your immediate vicinity. They will receive plans and have the opportunity to oppose them, if they have a good argument against them. If enough people are unhappy, you may well not receive planning permission.
It’s worth approaching your neighbours directly before this point to tell them what you’re planning and the benefits to the environment. An open and friendly approach will hopefully help to smooth over any doubts in their mind – and you never know, you might actually inspire them to do the same in their home.
See if You’re Eligible For a GrantIncreasingly local councils, as a means to encouraging the people in their borough to be more environmentally friendly, are giving incentives to people interested in generating their own energy. Ensure you don’t miss out on such a scheme where you are – some councils, for example, offer council tax discounts.
National Grid or Standalone?You will need to decide whether your wind turbine will be independent, or whether it will link into the National Grid. The advantage of doing the latter is that if you generate excess energy, then local electricity companies will buy it from you. This system feeds directly into the grid and works in the same way as your current electricity supply.
An off-grid wind turbine system will involve saving electricity using a battery. This type is more suited to remote properties where linking up to the national grid is more complicated or costly.
Where To Get the EquipmentNext, you should ensure that you choose an accredited supplier and installer of your wind product. The Energy Saving Trust can offer local help and advice and are also able to put you in touch with local professionals.
How Much Will it Cost?The cost of a micro wind turbine depends on the size of the turbine you’re looking to install. For a small home turbine, a 1kW powered turbine will cost in the region of £3,000 for the equipment and installation. However with recent news that a major DIY chain will offer wind turbine and solar panels for half that price, generating your own energy is becoming more affordable.
Other costs to bear in mind are occasional servicing costs and replacing worn out blades. A wind turbine has a life expectancy of around 20 years. Again, as demand grows, the technology will also develop further.