Small Wind Turbine Generator for the Home
With the availability of the new Smart Expert Guarantee (SEG) feed-in type tariffs from almost all electricity suppliers, building your own DIY wind turbine may sound like a great idea to earn money and have all your electricity for free. Let’s find out if this scenario is available for the majority of homeowners.
Wind power generation is like small windmills that are small-scale versions of the ones found on large offshore and onshore wind farms around the UK. The wind turbine blades catch any wind moving through them and generate electricity for the home.
Therefore a domestic wind turbine generator could provide almost all of your electricity by having this device at the bottom of your garden or placed on a vertical axis on the side of your house. You’ll need to research if you live in an area that is windy, for example, on the top of a hill or near the coast.
Because the UK is an island with winds coming in from the Atlantic via the Jet Stream and strong northerlies, at least 40% of the wind generated over Europe finds its way over the UK. Our landscape is, therefore, ideally suited to take advantage of homeowners buying one of these devices or building their own as a DIY project.
What can wind turbines do for me?
Wind turbines are much smaller than the ones you may have seen on TV and can cost under £1,000 for a microsystem and up to £20,000 for larger designs. Depending on how much energy you want to produce will dictate your required investment. A 2.5kWh system could save you around £350 per year in electricity. Although no electricity gets produced when the wind power is low or too high, not all systems can store excess energy and must be used immediately.
One option would be to invest in some form of battery storage to capture the energy when produced. However, you can earn money from excess capacity with the current export tariffs.
Harnessing wind power might be a solution to top-up any energy you may have already generated from other renewable sources such as solar or biomass. The SEG tariffs only provide approximately 50% of the unit cost of a kWh of electricity. So if you have to repurchase it, it will cost you twice the price.
What home wind turbine should I choose?
You’ll likely need something that generates at least 3.0kWh power. This type of turbine will cost around £10,000, although you could get some local or government funding through a grant. Check your local council’s website first to see what’s on offer (the grants will vary up and down the country). This system should be sufficient to power a standard three-bedroom house, excluding heating.
From the initial investment, the payback period is at least ten years. The payback means that your initial investment will be similar to the savings realised from lower electricity costs over ten years. As with other renewable energy solutions, this is not something to invest in to save money but instead to reduce the carbon emissions from the energy you use, such as coal-fired power stations.
DIY wind power kits
There are hundreds of DIY kits on the market where you get a five or six-bladed system which you can mount externally on a building. These units usually cost anywhere from a few hundred pounds to several thousand but check carefully about what you are buying. Most kits hardly generate any power, and all they do is charge up a battery which then provides power.
We researched online and found one kit costing £2,000, and all it would do is power three light bulbs for a day!
Other kits that are more expensive and can generate up to 2.2kWh can cost over £4,000, and you have to install them yourself or get the company to install them for you. If you are in any doubt, speak to the Carbon Trust or the Energy Saving Trust, who can help you decide if a wind turbine generator is a solution for your green energy requirements.