Background to wind power
What are wind turbines and how do they work?
Wind turbines work by harnessing the natural power of wind to turn their large propellor-like blades, which in turn drive a turbine amd generate electricity. The stronger the wind, the more electricity produced.
Are wind turbines suitable to power a small business, or a home?
Although most turbines tend to appear in clusters on hillsides or offshore, a single, roof mounted or free standing wind turbine can be used on its own to supply power for your home or business, particularly if you have the right conditions available.
If you are considering installing a wind turbine you need an optimum wind speed of around five metres per second and little in the way of trees, buildings or walls to prevent the wind getting to your turbine. You may want to consider fitting a wind gauge for a couple of months to check on the wind speed near your property.
Are there different kinds of wind turbine?
There are two types of installation to consider: roof mounted and free-standing.
The size of wind turbines varies widely. The length of the blades is the biggest factor in determining the amount of electricity a wind turbine can generate. Small wind turbines that can power a single property may have an electricity generating capacity of 10kW. The largest wind turbines in operation have electricity generating capacities of up to 10,000kW.
What are the benefits of installing a wind turbine?
As with solar power, wind is free, so once you have paid for your installation, your electricity costs will be greatly reduced and you will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. You can also store excess electricity in batteries and use it when there is no wind.
How much do wind turbines cost?
The cost of a system will depend on the size and the mounting method. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a 6kW pole-mounted system costs around £23,000 – £34,000. The size of turbine you need will depend on the size of your property and the amount of power you use.
Building-mounted turbines cost less to install than pole-mounted ones, but tend to be less efficient. A well-sited 6kW turbine can generate around 9,000kWh a year. This can save around 3.4 tonnes of CO2 a year and provide enough power to supply two average homes.
As wind turbines have moving parts, turbines will require regular servicing; these costs should be factored into your investment decision.
Next steps on your wind power journey
Here's where to go for more advice on installing a wind turbine at your home or business.