Will my property be suitable for a wind turbine?
Above all others, this is the key question to bear in mind when looking into wind turbines. The suitability of the site dictates the financial gain to be made from the wind turbine installation. A location suitable for the installation of wind turbines will have the following attributes:
- An average wind speed of at least 5m/s
- Free from turbulence caused by nearby obstacles such as hills, buildings and trees, which slow the wind down
- In the case of pole-mounted turbines, enough land on which to build foundations and attach guy ropes (if necessary)
- The site must not be in or near to a Conservation Area or anywhere in the grounds of a Listed Building
Urban and suburban sites are therefore highly unlikely to be suitable for the generation of energy with wind turbines, and are better suited to other renewable energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and ground source heat pumps.
Wind turbines are best suited to elevated and open sites in rural and coastal areas. It is for this reason that one finds many domestic and industrial wind turbine installations in Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall.
Assessing your local wind speed is the first step to take when making a decision on purchasing wind turbines. In the first instance, you can use the Energy Saving Trust’s (EST) wind speed prediction tool, which will give you a rough estimate of your area’s wind speeds: Wind Speed prediction tool
If the result of this preliminary test is that your area’s wind speed is greater than 5m/s, the next step would be to monitor the wind speeds that your property receives over a set period of time. At least 3 months’ monitoring is vital, although it is recommended that you monitor for 12 months in order to account for seasonal variations in wind speeds.
The best way to carry out this monitoring is to buy an anemometer (typically costing between £100-£750) and place it at the same height as that of the proposed turbine. The anemometer will measure average and maximum wind speeds, as well as levels of turbulence at your property, and log the data which can then be accessed by a computer interface. Some anemometers also measure wind direction, although this can be done with a separate weathervane.
Once you have monitored wind speeds for your area, it is also advisable to cross-reference the data with other information sources, such as the Met Office.
Another useful resource is the DECC UK Wind speed Database.
If the results of the wind speed monitoring are encouraging, you can then arrange for an MCS-accredited engineer or technical surveyor to inspect your property and assess the feasibility of a wind turbine installation.
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