Generate electricity at home with small-scale wind turbines
Wind turbines harness the power of the wind and use it to generate electricity. About 40 per cent of all wind energy in Europe blows over the UK, making it an ideal country for domestic turbines (known as microwind or small-wind turbines). A typical system in an exposed site can easily generate more power than your lights and electrical appliances use.
Wind turbines use large blades to catch the wind. When the wind blows, the blades are forced round, driving a turbine which generates electricity. The stronger the wind, the more electricity produced.
There are two types of domestic-sized wind turbine:
The cost of a system will depend on the size and the mounting method. Building-mounted turbines cost less to install than pole-mounted ones, but they tend to be less efficient.
For equipment and installation, with VAT at 5 per cent:
Building-mounted turbines tend to produce less electricity per kW than pole-mounted ones. A well-sited 6kW turbine can generate around 10,000kWh and the equivalent of around 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Wind turbines are eligible for Feed-in Tariffs and you will earn a tariff for each kWh of electricity generated by your system. You will also receive another tariff for each kWh of electricity you export.
Maintenance checks are necessary every few years, and will generally cost around £100 to £200 per year depending on turbine size. A well-maintained turbine should last more than 20 years, but you may need to replace the inverter at some stage during this time, at a cost of £1,000 to £2,000 for a large system.
For off-grid systems, batteries will also need replacing, typically every 6 to 10 years. The cost of replacing batteries varies depending on the design and scale of the system. Any back-up generator will also have its own fuel and maintenance costs.