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.
Depending on the size and location, wind turbines need to be at least a few hundred metres from nearby properties so that noise is not an issue. This means that you may need a reasonable sized landholding beyond the requirements for the wind turbine itself (around 200m by 200m).
Wind turbines proposed in protected landscapes such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be more difficult but not necessarily impossible.
Contact windenergyplanning if you would like more information on pursuing your own wind energy project.