An introduction to Wind Turbines
If you have been on the coast or in the country, chances are you will have come across those colossal white windmills, their blades turning slowing in the breeze. These wind turbines harness the kinetic energy of the wind and turn it into valuable electricity. The UK is an ideal place for such a renewable energy source and there are currently 185 wind farms in operation providing electricity to over 1.5 million homes.
Wind turbines have had their critics over the last few years, notably because of their impact on the aesthetics of the environment, but that hasn’t stopped the development of new fields to help meet renewable targets for the next decade.
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Since the beginning of civilised history, we have been trying to utilise the power of wind, in sailing ships or to power windmills to process grain and make it into flour. The first windmills reached England in the Middle Ages and the first turbine created to generate electricity was developed as far back as the late 19th Century.
In the 1930s they were fairly common on isolated farms in the United States, providing electricity before any national grid was formed. The rise of our dependence on fossil fuels dampened any further development over the years until we reached the present age where we are in dire need of renewable energies. In the last 20 years, the development of wind turbine farms has grown dramatically and, although it only currently provides around 1% of our UK energy needs, it is set to continue do so for the immediate future. More on the history of wind turbines.
When people mention wind turbines it immediately brings to mind the huge wind farms dotted across the countryside or seen far out at sea. The truth is that there are quite a variety of wind turbines from vertical and horizontal axis arrays to roof mounted and free standing. Find out more about the different types of wind turbine.
Even with all its recent developments, the heart of wind turbine technology is still beautifully simple. Wind drives the blades, which turns a shaft in the neck of the turbine, which in turn feeds an electrical generator. The wind needs to be blowing at around 10 to 30 miles per hour and a 1.8 MW construction can produce electricity for about one thousand homes. Find out moreabout the workings of a wind turbine.
Many people think the only option for generating their own electricity is to get solar panels but domestic wind turbines are starting to gain popularity. They are more suitable for remote locations for aesthetic reasons but a typical set up can cost between £1500 for a 1 kW system and £70,000 for 15 kW at the higher end of the market. Find out more about how much domestic wind turbines cost.
Finding the right source of finance for a big project such as a wind turbine can often be hard work. Fortunately, there are number of companies and a lot of advice available if you are going to take the plunge. Read our guide to finance options for wind turbines.
One of the first things people want to consider is the impact on the price of their property. The other factor to think about is whether it would put some potential buyers off if you have a wind turbine. You may also want to check first whether you need to have planning permission to install either a pole or roof mounted wind turbine. Find out more here.
One of the main attractions of installing any renewable technology is the chance to benefit from the government’s Feed in Tariff whereby energy companies pay you for providing electricity or heat. Wind turbines are also eligible for this investment opportunity. Find out how much profit you are likely to make on your wind turbine installation.
Wind turbines are more complicated electrically than they at first seem. There are a number of electrical parts that need to be connected and maintained over the years. These include isolation switches, generating boxes, inverters, and meters. Find out more aboutelectronics for wind turbines.
Whether your site is indeed suitable for a wind turbine, either as a roof mounted installation or a free standing tower, is one of the big decisions you will need to make. Unlike other renewable technologies, wind power is not right for everyone. Find out whether your site is suitable for a wind turbine here.
For smaller wind turbine systems it is possible to do a DIY installation but it requires a certain degree of ability and understanding of the electrical components. If you want to qualify for the Feed in Tariff then you will need to have a certificate from a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and you will also require a qualified electrician to connect your system and ensure that it complies with EU legislation. Find out more about building your own wind turbine.
With few moving parts, a domestic wind turbine should have a life expectancy of around 20 years. Some manufactures claim that with proper maintenance their installation will last at least 30. Warranties offered are generally in the region of 10 years, so you need to consider the cost of ongoing maintenance when you decide whether you are going to opt for a wind turbine or not.Find out more here.
One of the popular options at the moment is to rent your land for a wind farm. Many companies are looking for suitable areas to invest in and, if your wind speeds are up to the mark, it can be a profitable way to go. Find out more about renting land for wind farms.
It’s one of the big questions that prospective buyers ask before they sign the contract. Installing a wind turbine comes with some caveats, but if you have the right site and the right product, you can make a significant amount on your initial investment. Find out if it’s worth installing a wind turbine.
There are a number of legal and planning issues to unravel if you want to have a wind turbine installed. This guide tells you all you need to know about legal and planning permission.
It takes some work to install a wind turbine, whether you want it fitted to your roof or you are going for a free standing array. This guide takes you through the whole wind turbine installation process.
Wind turbines may start to change in the coming years, from the stark white columns we are used to seeing to more imaginative, and artistic, designs that blend in or complement the surroundings. It may be the case that art will come to the aid of the land-born wind farm.
Whatever developments are coming our way, there is no doubt that wind turbines are here to stay and are an important part of the country’s renewable energy strategy. Find out more about the future of wind turbines.
Like most renewable technologies wind turbines are subject to certification bodies who ensure that you are getting the best quality service and a product that is fit for purpose according to EU and industry standards. Find out more about certification bodies for wind turbines here.
Warranty, insurance and maintenance for wind turbines (LINK)
If you have bought your wind turbine from a reputable installer or manufacturer you should have a warranty on it. But you also need to consider protection like insurance and the future maintenance of your installation. Find out more here. (LINK)
For a list of manufactures and installers of wind turbines click on one of the links below:
- Domestic and smaller pole-mounted wind turbine manufacturers (up to 100kW)
- Roof-mounted wind turbine manufacturers
- Manufacturers and types of wind turbine
- Installers of wind turbines
- Price comparison for wind turbines
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