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With the UK government feed in tariff (FIT) still looking healthy for smaller wind turbines many people want to know if their land is suitable to host a wind turbine.
There are many contributing factors to a good wind turbine site. The two key factors are wind speed and proximity to an electricity grid connection. Environmental impacts are also very important and proximity to for example hedgerows or buildings where bats may be present will need to be considered.
You can find out an approximation of the wind speed in your area by inputting your grid co-ordinates into the DECC wind speed database. Be warned however localised physical influences can mean that the wind speed on your land is very different than the DECC predicted average. These influences can include local topography and presence of trees. Trees and undulating terrain can interrupt the flow of the wind and increase turbulence. Generally sites with wind speeds of 7 metres per second or above will be viable for wind turbines if there is a suitable grid connection point nearby.
An accurate wind speed can only be secured by using an on-site anemometer mast, although some wind farm developers have more detailed databases utilising collected mast data. Generally however if you own an open site on relatively high ground or near the coast, your site is likely to have a good wind speed. Clearly if your land is low lying and shielded by hills then wind speed is likely to be poor.
For turbines in the 100-500kW range, your site needs to be close to a 3 phase electricity supply i.e. within a few hundred metres to 1km. Larger turbines need an 11kV or 33kV supply point within a few km.
Wind turbines should be located away from buildings, trees and hedgerows potentially used by bats. If there are such features in the locality a survey by an expert consultancy showing that impacts will not be significant may need to be carried out. Check this website for a national bat and tree survey company.Read: Is my Land Suitable for a Wind Turbine?
RenewableUK, the trade association representing the wind, wave and tidal industry, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s public vote of confidence in wind energy, following the publication of a letter by a group of backbench MPs questioning the value of supporting onshore wind. In response to the letter, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We need a low carbon infrastructure and onshore wind is a cost effective and valuable part of the diverse energy mix”.
Jennifer Webber, RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs said:
“We know there’s a huge amount of public support for wind energy. YouGov conducted a poll in December which showed that 56% of people think we should be expanding wind power in the UK, and 60% believe the Government is right to provide financial support to do so. We’re also glad to see that the wind industry has immediately received strong support from the Government in response to this letter. The Government recognises that, as well as providing a secure source of clean energy, we’re driving our costs down, which will reduce the level of financial support we need in the long term.Read: Wind energy has widespread public support and offers value for money
The latest Government figures on the amount of electricity generated by wind power have been welcomed by RenewableUK, the country’s largest renewable energy trade association, as proof of the increasingly significant contribution wind energy makes to UK households.
Statistics for the third quarter of 2011, released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, show that renewable sources generated 9 per cent of the UK’s electricity from July to September. That represents an increase of nearly 1 per cent on the same quarter last year.
The UK now has enough installed capacity to supply more than 3,300,000 homes from wind energy.Read: It’s official – wind generates “substantially” more electricity
Early micro-renewable energy generators are angry at the government for doing a U turn on promises relating to feed in tariffs (FITs).
The Tories and LibDems both promised equal FIT rates to early adopters of renewable energy in the run up to the general election. Now the coalition government has gone back on its word and the microgenerator’s campaign is calling on early adopters to let their MPs know how angry they are.Read: Early Renewable Energy Adopters Angry at Government U Turn
Latest Ofgem figures show a boom in small scale renewable energy systems across the UK.
Since the introduction of the feed in tariff (FIT) by the previous government in April, over 9000 new wind, solar, hydro and micro combined heat and power projects have been installed by both householders and commercial organisations. Installations in August doubled those in July with nearly 4000 householders going green.Read: UK Feed in Tariff Boom Continues
From this week the public sector are allowed to sell electricity to the grid in the UK.
The move comes as Energy Secretary Chris Hulne tries to add momentum to the decentralisation of electricity production in the UK via the Feed in Tariff.
The Local Government Act of 1976 previously prevented local councils in England and Wales from selling electricity not produced alongside heat. The UK government now believes that local authorities should be leading the way when it comes to investing in small scale renewable energy.
Hulne said:Read: UK Councils to sell Electricity to the Grid
The UK Micropower Council has criticised the UK government for ‘breaking the law on renewables’. The organisation called on David Cameron to stand by his pledge to be the ‘greenest government ever’.
In a newly published report the Micropower Council claims Local Government Department Ministers have broken the law by failing to comply with an Act of Parliament requiring the implementation of Permitted Development rights for air source heat pumps and micro wind turbines.Read: Government Criticised for ‘Breaking the Law’ on Renewable Energy & Heat
Even celebrities are excited about the new renewable energy Feed in Tariff (FIT). Here is Kevin McCloud talking to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) about the benefits of FIT at Ecobuild 2010:Read: Kevin McCloud Endorses Feed in Tariffs
The Government introduced two new renewable energy incentive schemes yesterday in a bid to encourage greener homes and businesses. The two schemes are expected to improve energy efficiency and increase small-scale low-carbon electricity.
The Government say that their Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES) for businesses and Feed in tariffs (FITs) will help people save money on fuel bills, reduce carbon emissions and generate decentralised low-carbon electricity.
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, said:Read: UK Feed In Tariff Launched
Supermarket giant Tesco is to start selling solar panels in the UK according to the Timesonline today.
The UK Feed In Tariff is programmed to start on Thursday 1st April and expected to result in a substantial number of people starting to generate their own green electricity. Under the schemeRead: Tesco to Sell Feed in Tariff Solar Panels
UK guaranteed green electricity price tariffs are creating serious interest in small scale renewable energy generation this year.
There is however a group of people not so happy about the detail of the feed in tariff proposals.
For the pioneers who installed their renewable generator before July 15th 2009 the government is offering much lower payments compared with those available to new generators. The original renewable generators will earn 9 pence (US 14 cents) per unit compared with the tariff offering up to 41.3p (US 65 cents) a unit for newly installed generators.Read: Micro Renewable Energy Generators Seek Higher Feed in Tariff
The UK wind energy sector, householders and community groups have welcomed new fixed electricity payment tariffs for small scale renewable energy technologies announced today. The UK government is set to put in place the ‘feed in’ tariffs for electricity produced by renewable energy projects of up to 5 Megawatts (MW) capacity.
From 1st April this year people and companies who install renewable energy generators of 5 MW or under will receive the guaranteed payments for each kWh of green electricity they produce.
Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:
“The guarantee of getting an income on top of saving on energy bills will be an incentive to householders and communities wanting to make the move to low carbon living.
“The feed-in tariff will change the way householders and communities think about their future energy needs, making the payback for investment far shorter than in the past.
“It will also change the outlook for a range of industries, in particular those in the business of producing and installing small scale low carbon technology.”Read: Excitement over Green Energy Fixed Payment Rate
With fixed prices for electricity generated by small scale renewable energy on their way, are we likely to see a better range of domestic wind turbine models on the market soon?
Over the past ten years there has been a limited range of domestic scale wind turbines on the market, with disaster striking with the B&Q cheap (and ineffective) rooftop turbine. This Youtube video shows a Danish householder with a reasonable plot of land using what appears to be a much more effective stand alone Gaia wind turbine.
The turbine has a peak rated output of 11kW and is described by the manufacturer as suitable for farms, large residences, offices, small businesses and public buildings where the main aim is to reduce the amount of electricity imported. In the right locations exporting electricity is also possible. The turbine has been designed to give an optimum yield in moderate wind speeds which the manufacturer specifies as a range of between 4.5-7.5 m/s (10-12mph).Read: Small Wind Turbine Market Expands
Should people need planning consent for small scale renewable energy? This is a question the UK government has been contemplating for several years.
In 2008, the Town and Country Planning Order was amended to grant permitted development rights to domestic properties for solar panels, ground source heat pumps and water source heat pumps, but not to wind turbines and air source heat pumps.
A new consultation was kicked off yesterday on Government proposals to introduce permitted development rights for small scale renewable energy and low carbon technologies for both householders and businesses. It is also looking for feedback on permitted development rights and advertisement consent for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.Read: Planning Rules Change for Small -Scale Renewables
Vertical axis wind turbines appear to be flavour of the year when it comes to small wind turbines. In the UK, supermarket giant Tesco has installed several “Ropatec” vertical axis wind turbines with a rated capacity of 6kW.
The latest vertical axis turbine model to come into the test arena is the new Blackhawk Tilt Rotor Wind Turbine. The turbine is being tested and monitored by researchers from the Blackhawk Project LLC at Idaho’s National Laboratory Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES).Read: Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Market Continues to Expand
With fixed prices for small scale green energy generation on their way, UK residents are starting to show some serious interest in generating their own renewable electricity.
Green electricity company Good Energy is planning an event to help people get started with their own electricity projects.
The workshop ‘Power from the People: How to Generate Renewable Energy’ is aimed at a wide ranging audience from homeowners to farmers with the objective of helping to get small scale renewable energy projects up and running.Read: UK Micro- Renewable Energy Masterclasses
With more people wanting to be energy self sufficient and goverments providing financial incentives to make this ideal more affordable, we are looking at a future where domestic energy generation is rolled out to the masses.
In the UK, National Grid operate the high level grid infrastructure (generally any substations, power lines or cables rated at above 132kV) and distribution network organisations operate the local grid infrastructure of 132kV and below in the different regions.
With this anticipated increase in households generating their own green electricity, so will come increasing demands to connect these individual generators to the local distribution networks. Domestic generators such as solar PV panels, micro-wind turbines, or micro-scale CHP units will have the potential to export small amounts of electricity (as little as 0.5 kW). The result will be far more complex, actively managed local electricity networks, in which power flows in different directions at different times. Ensuring that distribution operators are ready for this change represents a major challenge.Read: Can our Grid System Cope with Domestic Renewable Energy?
The Energy Savings Trust is seeking the UK’s Green Community Heroes this year to celebrate the UK’s most inspiring green community projects.
The green awards are aimed at saluting those individuals and groups who have strived to combat climate change by reducing thier community’s energy or by generating clean energy for their community.
The Energy Savings Trust is offering national recognition with a feature in Society Guardian. It says this will help the community with future promotion and bid requests. The categories include Best Rural Community Project, Best Urban Community Project, Most Innovative Project and Outstanding Contribution by An Individual. From street by street home insulation projects to community wind turbines and education about climate change, the Energy Savings Trust want to hear about it.Read: Energy Savings Trust Seeking Green Community Heroes
This Reuters video is about a large property owner in Sweden who has installed a rooftop wind turbine on one of its apartment blocks. The turbine will provide 10% of the building’s energy consumption but further turbines could provide for more.Read: Wind Turbine for Swedish Apartment Block
With both the US and UK governments making serious investments in small scale renewable energy, community projects are likely to attract keen interest over the next few years.
A range of technologies are available to both existing and new communities including wind energy, solar energy, biomass or combined heat and power and hydro- electric power.
Green Energy Web Conferences are holding a series of webconferences to exchange information about green energy solutions. The first is a 2-day community wind energy webconference comprising live presentations by more than 25 community wind specialists.Read: Community Renewable Energy