A buyer’s guide to wind turbines

For over 3000 years civilisations have used wind power to their advantage. Although we no longer use wind power like the ancient Babylonians, the same principle is used in today’s technology. The power of the wind turns a turbine blade connected to a shaft that can be used to our advantage. Contemporary technology connects the shaft to a generator to make electricity. That electricity can be used to provide power for a home / outbuilding, or can be fed back into the local grid, helping to power your home and the homes around you.

We here in the UK, have the best wind resources in Europe. We lead the world in offshore wind farm installations and we have the biggest wind projects in Europe currently under construction. At this very moment 2.5% of all power consumed in the United Kingdom is generated by wind energy. Obviously this electricity is produced on a commercial scale, on wind farms constituting of over 700 large turbines of various sizes and power. On a smaller domestic scale, wind turbines can be used for your residential power needs. Domestic wind turbines can help power your home day and night when there is wind present. Any electricity that you generate you get paid for and also you get a fee for the electricity that isn’t used and is fed back into the national grid, earning you the government’s feed-in tariff for wind energy, that has been guaranteed for 20 years and is index linked. They also lower your households overall carbon emissions.

Wind turbines are characteristically organised into two main types, horizontal axis and vertical axis. Most domestic wind turbines are of the horizontal variety. This type conventionally has its rotor shaft and generator near the blades at the top of a tower. This head unit can then rotate to face the oncoming wind. If the wind is too strong they are designed to face away from the wind to protect the unit from damage along with pitch control that turns the blades profile, reducing the drag factor.

You may have seen building mounted wind turbines around. This turbine type is relatively new and has received some criticism due to the fact that they generally have a low output and can cause unwanted stress to your building. They do however avoid the costs of having a free standing tower and dedicated foundations. Due to this you should always seek specialist advice before installing a building mounted turbine.

The site for your wind turbine will need to be assessed. Wind turbines need very strong foundations as the turbine itself is very susceptible to turbulence, often supporting poles or guide wires are used to make them more secure. Usually a feasibility study will be carried out by yourself or your installer prior to installation. You can get yourself anemometer to test the wind levels, it’s best to keep the anemometer in place for 3months to a year in order to get an accurate reading. You will need to be measuring annual average wind speeds of over 11mps (meters per second) or your turbine may not yield profitable results. Generally the more consistent wind your turbine gets, the more electricity is produced. Consider what surrounding obstructions there might be such as buildings or trees. Planning permission may be needed, although your installer can advise you on these matters, it is often best to look into this yourself beforehand.

Stand-alone domestic wind turbine systems can be expected to have a battery to store excess power especially if it is not grid-tied, for use when there isn’t enough wind. Deep-cycle batteries are preferable because they can discharge and recharge many times. These batteries can last for 5-8 years and range in price from around £100 to £1000.

Unless you are planning on using battery power exclusively, a power inverter will need to be installed. The power inverter will be connected between your turbine and your homes existing power supply. The inverter converts low voltage DC to 120 volts AC, the same as from the national grid.

Your installer should liaise with your District Network Operator (DNO) to connect your wind turbine to the local grid. There may be a charge for this depending on the size of your turbine and location.

If the national grid fails for any reason, grid connected inverters automatically switch off to protect engineers working on the line. If grid related power cuts are common in your area, you might wish to consider some form of back-up storage. Consult with your installer for further details.

Make sure that your installer and system are MCS certified to be eligible for the ‘generation tariff’ and ‘Export tariff’. The feed-in tariff can only be gained by certain types of wind turbine and only for turbines installed by MCS certified installers. If your system is eligible you will receive an annual payment for all the electricity generated no matter how it is used, this is called the ‘Generation tariff’. You will also get a payment for any electricity you export, this is called the ‘Export tariff’.

The cost of a wind turbine system may vary considerably so make sure you get at least three quotes from reputable MCS accredited installers. Do as much research as possible! Wind turbines need regular maintenance but can be expected to operate for over 20 years. Ask your installer to provide you with written details of when and how often maintenance checks should be carried out and how much these are likely to cost. You can also check this with the manufacturer of your system. Always check the warranty before purchase and make sure you are covered for as long as possible.

All MCS approved installers should be able to provide a detailed breakdown of the specifications and costs of their proposed system. They should visit you in person to complete a technical survey before giving a quote and provide an estimate of how much electricity will be produced by the proposed system.

Suppliers/installers of wind turbines (both domestic and commercial) can be found by searching here.

Small Wind Turbine
Small Residential Wind Turbine

Gas and electricity price increase and the renewable energy industry.

The price for both gas and electricity is going up again. Last year the ‘big six’ energy companies outlined price rises of between 6% and 10.8%. British Gas, Npower and SSE have been the first to increase prices for their domestic customers, with dual-fuel bills to rise by up 11.1% in November, effecting nearly eight million households. This is indeed unwelcome news in the current financial climate. The cost of living is going up but wages don’t seem to be keeping pace.
Providers have said that the cost of buying energy on global markets, delivering gas and electricity to homes in addition to the government’s ‘green’ levies were all factors in the decision to put up prices.

So what action is our government taking to protect us from this exponential and frankly unaffordable escalation in prices?

The United Kingdom is turning to renewable energy more and more both on a commercial and domestic level.

“We are endowed with vast and varied renewable energy resources. We have the best wind, wave and tidal resources in Europe. “
Taken from the Ministerial forward ‘UK Renewable Energy Roadmap’

We lead the world in offshore wind, with more than 700 turbines already installed, providing enough power for two and a half million homes. We have the biggest wind projects in Europe under construction to help us meet our carbon footprint targets and to bring the costs of powering our homes down. New green levies, The Green deal, VAT cuts, green initiative investment and the government’s financial mechanism the RHI (renewable heat incentive) all support the widespread deployment of renewable energy technologies. Feed-in tariffs although previously cut by the government are now being locked in for periods of up to 20 years. The government is rewarding those that move towards renewable energy both on a commercial and domestic level.

What can renewable energy do for you in the wake of these and future price increases?

Co-generation and ‘green’ technologies such as solar panel systems, biomass boilers and heat pump systems are now more acquirable. Becoming gradually more and more enticing to consumers looking to save money and cut costs. New, more efficient technologies are being released to help lower our dependency on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions. A huge and vastly competitive market for a variety of renewable energy technology has opened up.
The renewable energy industry already employs over 250,000 people, by 2020 this figure could double as new more efficient technology in fields such as m-CHP fuel cell boilers become available. This is being driven forward by enthusiastic backers and developers, looking to sell their cost cutting, low emission products to the masses. Renewable energy is now available to all of us. It can save you money and help the environment in the process.
So, to summarize, the price of fossil fuel is rising, affecting nearly every household in the country at a time when typically we can’t afford it. Targeted practical actions are being taken in the green technology sector and it’s becoming more efficient and affordable. An investment in renewable energy has never made so much sense.

The Big Six raising prices again.
The Big Six raising prices again.

To find out more about renewable energy or to search a vast and user friendly database of over 7000 UK based installers visit:
www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk

With energy bills rising here’s two ways to cut the costs and lower your bills!

EcoLocker is set up to keep you informed about renewable energy products and services and then to put you in touch with the right team for your install. Read our user friendly and informative information pages to find out about renewable energy technologies that could help you lower your carbon footprint and save you money.
Here we offer a couple of widely applicable tips to help cut your energy costs.

Get free Insulation:

Before selecting a renewable energy system for your home or business we recommend that you first ensure that your property is fully insulated.
Insulating your home or workplace can significantly reduce bills. Loft insulation for a typical UK home can save you up to £175 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. Cavity wall insulation adds a further saving of £135 a year!
The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is the Government target given to all large energy providers to reduce carbon emissions by improving the energy efficiency of homes in Britain. It is the largest initiative of its kind and even middle / high-income households can take advantage. British gas is offering free insulation worth up to £1000 to all households regardless of their energy supplier. This deal is only available until the end of November and homes have to meet certain criteria to be applicable. Government grants of up to £3500 are also available to those on or below the poverty line.
The warm front scheme pays a company to improve insulation on your loft, cavity walls and hot water tank. To qualify you must receive pension credit with your state pension, have an income below £15,860 and receive Child Tax Credit or Working Tax credits, or claim income support.
Click here for more information on Insulation.

Replacing your boiler:

Boilers account for around 55% of our home’s energy bills a year so finding an efficient one or replacing an old one can really help cut your energy costs. If your boiler is more than 15 years old then simply replacing it for an A-rated condensing boiler and improving your heating controls will significantly cut your home’s carbon dioxide emissions and could save you up to £310 a year.
Upgrading to a new A-rated boiler could save you £237 a year according to the comparison website USwitch. So with an initial cost in the region of £1800-£2400 it would take between 7.5 and 10.5 years to cover your investment.
Free Boilers are available via the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) – Affordable Warmth boiler grant scheme. This scheme is only available to pensioners or senior citizens who receive either State Pension Credits or Working Tax Credits (and are over 60 y/a).
Alternatively you might want to look into Biomass boilers. This type of boiler typically burns wood in the form of wood chips or pellets (see our Biomass Boiler Information pages HERE). They are however, more suited to buildings that aren’t on mains gas and that have space for the storage of fuel.

Take the home energy check at the Energy Saving Trust to find out the overall energy efficiency of your home, and the carbon emissions you produce.
http://hec.est.org.uk/

Figures show new record for Renewable Energy power generation in the UK

The department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has produced figures earlier in the month that show 15.5% of total electricity generation was from renewable sources in the 2nd quarter of the year.

This has increased 5.8% on the 1012 figures that had previously stood at 9.7%.

“This confirms what we have been seeing for some time, which is renewables steadily becoming more important in meeting our electricity needs, and wind being responsible for the lion’s share of the progress,” Maf Smith, – RenewableUK.

This is a clear sign of progress towards the EU 2020 20% target and is welcomed by industry professionals.

UK Energy from Renewables
UK Energy from Renewables
Renewable Energy Targets
EU Renewable Energy Targets

 

Source DECC for Images

 

Thinking of an investment in solar panels?

More than 450,000 homes in Britain now have solar panels with an extra 2000 solar panel systems being installed each week. The Great British summer paid off this year, driving up the returns homeowners made on their investment, but can we really still see high percentage returns after the cuts to feed-in tariffs?

The Solar Trade Association estimates a cost saving of £823 a year on an average utility bill for an average £7000 pound investment in solar PV, which equates to roughly a 12.5% tax-free annual return over 25 years.

So what do i need to consider?

The main factors (there are others) to take into consideration when thinking about an investment in solar PV are:

The pitch of your roof. In the summer the angle of the sun is 50 to 60 degrees and the standard UK roof is 30 to 40 degrees resulting in a combined angle of 90 degrees, the ideal angle to catch the most sun.

The direction your roof faces. To produce the most electricity your solar PV array should be facing South. There will be a varying degree in loss of efficiency when pointed more towards the south east or south west.

The type of system you go for. Different makes and models of solar panels will have different efficiency and output ratings, effecting how much power they produce. More expensive solar panels may generate more electricity and generate you more money through the feed-in tariff. In the UK the most popular solar panel manufacturers are Solarworld, Schott, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Yingli and Canadian Solar.

The hours you spend at home. If you are at home during the day you can use more of the electricity you are producing yourself. It can take a decade to cover your initial investment if that is the way you want to look at it, so some thought towards the long term is generally a good idea.

Possible unforeseen maintenance requirements. Many homeowners who invested in solar panels early on, when the FIT first started are now realizing what impact poor install methods had in regards to the returns on their investment. When panels have been installed incorrectly many issues can occur with the roof in which they are installed on, leaks being the major culprit. This can lead to expensive repair bills which are likely to diminish returns considerably. Your chosen installer should reassure you that the method they intend to use on your property will not lead to these issues arising.

All you will need to know can be found HERE but if you have any further questions, then the The Renewable Energy Hub staff are always happy to help.

Email Us’ to get a quick estimate of how much income and savings you could receive from the domestic feed-in tariff scheme. Then choose at least three MCS accredited companies to approach for a quote. Use our database of UK installers to find the professional for your install.

Solar Panels
Solar PV Install

Increasing debt swamps Solar PV manufacturing Industry in China.

It is thought that China’s solar panel manufacturing industry is not currently sustainable at its current capacity, following pressure due to a substantial drop in demand.

Significant growth in the sector, due to economies across the globe investing heavily in renewable technologies, has resulted in a dramatic drop in prices recently, that European manufacturers blame on cheaper Chinese Solar PV imports.

State-owned Xinhua news agency has reported recently that the government has been refunding a large proportion of VAT to these enterprises to assist with their mounting debts.

Chinese Solar Cell Manufacture
Chinese Solar Cell Manufacture

Top 10 Mono-Crystalline Solar Panel Cells available today!

Position

Manufacturer

Type of cell

Cell Efficiency

1 Sunpower Maxeon Cell Technology 22.5%
2 Sanyo Electric HIT Solar Cell Structure 20.2%
3 JA Solar JAC M6SL Secium 20.0%
4 Suntech Pluto Cell 19.7%
5 Suniva ARTisun Select 19.4%
6 Shinsung Solar Energy SH-1940S3 19.4%
7 E-Ton Mono Cell 3BB 19.3%
8 Motech XS156B3-200R X-Cells 19.2%
9 Neo Solar Power Perfect 19 19.2%
10 Solartech Energy SR-156-3 19.1%
Solar Panels
Solar Panels

86MW Tidal energy project gets approval from Scottish Government.

MeyGen Ltd has just been granted approval by Fergus Ewing the Scottish Energy Minister, to commence the 86MW project, following the completion of the statutory approval process with the regulator Marine Scotland. This is considered a milestone for the joint venture company, with the development being the first phase of a possible 398MW capacity at the Orkney site.

Ewings was quoted saying:

“This is a major step forward for Scotland’s marine renewable energy industry. When fully operational, the 86 MW array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes – around 40 per cent of homes in the Highlands.”

2013-09-25 22_09_57-Technology _ MeyGen

MayGen will install the first six of its AR1000 turbines at the site shortly providing a ‘demonstration array’. The AR1000 is claimed to be the world’s most powerful single-rotor tidal device measuring in at 22.5m in height. It is hoped with the project running to plan, that by 2020 all 400 of the devices could be operational.Schematic Here

The project is located off the north coast of Caithness in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, home to one of Europe’s largest tidal resources.

Dan Pearson, CEO of MeyGen, added:

“the MeyGen team and its shareholders are thrilled to have reached this defining milestone. While there is still much work to be done, the prospects for delivering the first tidal energy array in the Pentland Firth, thereby establishing a stepping stone to commercialising tidal energy, are promising”.

Micro-CHP is set to revolutionise the way that we generate heat and use electricity in homes and small businesses.

Energy efficient, flexible and controllable Micro-CHP systems are being installed in the UK now.

Micro-CHP (micro combined heat and power) is a term referring to a group of technologies that generate both heat and electricity. Like a normal boiler these micro-CHP units can provide heating for your home or office, hot water and electricity as well! Micro-CHP still use mains gas or LPG but are more environmentally friendly and cost effective, plus they give you more control over your home’s heating and electricity consumption. They can also be integrated with conventional condenser boilers, ground and air source heat pumps and solar thermal systems.

Micro-CHP systems are similar in size and shape to domestic boilers; they can be wall hung or floor standing. If you have a conventional boiler then a micro-CHP boiler should be able to directly replace it. The installer must be MCS approved but for the householder there is very little difference in installation and operation. The only difference to a standard boiler is that they are able to generate electricity while they are heating water. A typical domestic system will generate up to 1kW of electricity once warmed up. Any electricity you generate and don’t use can be sold back to the grid whilst getting paid for what you generate by way of the Feed In Tariff (FIT).

Micro-CHP systems lower carbon emissions by generating their own electricity as a by-product of heat. Some systems are eligible for Feed-in Tariffs where you will earn a tariff for each KWH of electricity you generate and each KWH you export. (Click here for the latest FiT rates)

The standard Stirling engine micro-CHP generates about 6:1 heat to electricity so its electrical output is generally fairly low, however the rewards can still be felt, with it paying for itself in a reasonably short amount of time (subject to FIT payments).

The Fuel cell micro-CHP is new to the UK and global markets. Fuel cells work by taking energy from fuel at a chemical level instead of burning it so they don’t produce large quantities of carbon dioxide (or noise). They convert the chemical energy in fuel directly into electricity and heat. They could substantially decarbonise domestic energy production. An initiative by Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd called ‘free BlueGen’ has been launched which will see fuel cell micro-CHP systems installed for free in the UK. The idea is that the install will be financed by an energy services company and the funds will be recouped through the UK’s feed-in tariff. The end user will only pay for the running costs at a minimum 10% discount on the cheapest local standard retail tariff.

‘The United Kingdom government has announced that it will be increasing its feed-in tariff of micro combined heart and power systems. Micro-CHP systems often make use of hydrogen fuel cells which are capable of producing a large amount of heat while generating electricity. The UK government believes that these systems hold a great deal of potential and could help the country become less dependent on fossil-fuels. The initiative may be good news for Ceramic Fuel Cells, whose BlueGen fuel cells are the only micro-CHP system that has received certification from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.’ www.viridisec.co.uk

Worcester MicroCHP Unit
Worcester MicroCHP Unit

Here is a video on BlueGEN fuel cell micro-CHP.

Devon’s Thorne Farm increases EWT’s foothold in the UK.

EWT has installed a direct drive 0.5MW turbine at the Thorne Farm site in Devon recently.

This has seen the Dutch company gain traction in the market, with its 500kW, 61m tip DW52 turbine, now its 50th to be installed in the UK.

The DirectWind 52/54-500kW was developed in response to market demand for sites with low to moderate wind speed. This direct drive technology enables sites that would otherwise have been lost at the initial stages. This is due primarily to the low cut-in speed of 2.5m/s.

Porterledge Renewable Limited (Project developer) has been quoted as saying;

“We originally earmarked the site for a 330kW turbine with 33-metre rotor diameter and a tip height of 53 metres, availability of the 330kW machine came to an end prior to planning permission so we looked for the machine closest in tip height while still in the 500kW turbine class. The EWT DW52 500kW with its tip height of 61m made for an easy route through planning with the bonus of a 60% increase in yield over the 330kW turbine.”