How does it work and can it power my house? – Forbes Advisor UK
The use of wind power is increasingly popular in the UK. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that between 2009 and 2020, electricity production from wind power increased by an astounding 715%.
If you’re considering switching to a greener energy supplier, or even considering installing your own wind turbine at home, here’s everything you need to know about how wind power works.
Where does wind power come from?
Wind energy comes from wind turbines. These turbines harness the natural energy of the wind and use it to generate electricity. When the wind blows, the propeller-shaped blades of the turbine are pushed around a rotor. The rotor is connected to a generator which produces electricity which is fed into the national grid. The stronger the wind, the more electricity will be produced.
Wind turbines are often grouped together in wind farms – called “grids” – to generate more energy. These farms are generally located in areas of open land (“onshore”) or off the coast in areas of shallow water (“offshore”).
The UK is currently home to 2,450 wind farm sites comprising 8,681 onshore wind turbines and around 2,292 others offshore.
Hornsea 1, located off the Yorkshire coast, is the world’s largest offshore wind farm. With its 174 wind turbines, it produces enough energy to power more than a million homes. Eight other key offshore wind projects are still under development in the UK, including Hornsea 2.
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Does my energy supplier use wind power?
The use of wind energy by your supplier will depend in part on whether or not it offers “green energy” tariffs. With this type of tariff, you always get your electricity from the National Grid in the same way as a household at a non-green tariff. But your supplier will match some or all of the electricity you use with the amount they buy from renewable generators.
Some of this renewable energy could come from wind farms, but it could also come from solar parks or hydroelectric plants.
This means that if you choose a green energy tariff, it does not automatically mean that you choose a supplier that has wind or solar farms. But he might have deals to buy electricity from renewable generators.
Energy companies are required by law to publish the details of their energy mix, so take a look at your supplier’s website or your energy bill to find out what percentage of electricity your supplier produces from renewable sources.
How do I find a supplier who uses wind power?
You will have to dig a little deeper if you want to be absolutely certain that your energy supplier is using wind power.
Supplier websites should detail how they generate their electricity, but it’s not always easy to read. Some suppliers may use wind power only, while others will combine it with other renewable sources such as solar power and hydroelectric projects.
For particularly “green” energy providers, take a look at Outfox the Market, which generates all of its electricity from wind power, with the company saying it only uses offshore wind farms.
Alternatively, Ecotricity says that all the electricity it produces comes from wind or solar power and that it makes about a fifth of its electricity itself from its “fleet of windmills and sunmills. “. The rest is bought from other green generators.
Can I install my own wind turbine at home?
If you prefer to take matters into your own hands, you can consider installing a wind turbine in your home. But it will not be without challenges.
For starters, this will only work if you have a good wind site – ideally if you live on the heights or on the coast. Rural areas are better than urban areas, and you will need to check that there are no obstacles such as trees or tall buildings. Wind turbines ideally need an average wind speed of 5 m / s (meters per second) to be profitable.
Then you will need to choose your wind turbine.
There are two types of household size wind turbines. The first is mounted on a pole. These are self-contained and must be installed in a suitably exposed position. They have a production capacity of around 5 to 6 kW per day, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
The second is mounted on a building. These are smaller systems than pole mounted systems, which means they can be installed on the roof of your property, provided there are sufficient wind resources. These generally have a daily production capacity of 1 to 2 kW.
The average household uses 3,731 kWh of electricity per year, according to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
According to the Energy Saving Trust, a well-located pole-mounted 5kW turbine can generate around 9,000kWh per year, which could save you around £ 280 per year on your electricity bills.
Separate figures from The Renewable Energy Hub show that a roof-mounted 1.5 kW turbine generates around 2,600 kWh per year depending on wind speed and occurrence. A 1 kW turbine would produce around 1,750 kWh per year.
Before installing your own wind turbine, check with your town hall if you need a building permit. It is also a good practice to let your neighbors know about your plans at an early stage. And you should speak with your energy supplier if you want to connect your turbine to the national grid.
What is the cost of installation?
Because building-mounted turbines are smaller, they cost less to install than pole-mounted turbines – typically starting at £ 1,500. However, they are also less efficient and will not produce as much electricity.
A 5kW pole mounted system will cost you between £ 23,000 and £ 34,000 for equipment and installation.
Can you make money by installing a wind turbine?
If you generate enough electricity from your wind turbine installation, you will be eligible for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) program. Launched in 2020, the scheme replaced the government’s feed-in tariff program.
To be eligible, your installation must have a capacity of 5 MW or less. And you will need a meter that can provide readings every half hour so your supplier can see how much electricity you are exporting.
If you subscribe to a SEG tariff, you will be paid for any excess electricity you generate that is fed back into the national grid.
The rate of pay, the length of the contract and whether the rates are fixed or variable, it’s up to your supplier to decide. Fixed SEG tariffs pay a fixed tariff per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity exported over the term of the contract. A variable tariff will have fluctuating prices based on market demand, but the prices cannot fall below zero.
Do wind turbines operate without wind?
If the wind speed is too low, the wind turbines will simply stop spinning and no electricity will be produced. This means that it can be difficult to predict exactly how much electricity a wind turbine will produce over time.
It also means that if wind power was to be used exclusively, it would have to be paired with an energy storage system, similar to that used by solar panels.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of wind power?
There are pros and cons of any energy source and wind power is no different:
- Renewable energy source
- Once the turbines are operational, operating costs are low
- Wind turbines do not take up much floor space
- Creates jobs in wind power.
- The amount of electricity produced may vary depending on the weather
- Wind turbines can damage habitats for birds and marine life
- Wind farms can be expensive to build
- Wind turbines create noise and visual pollution.
How does the UK compare to other countries in its use of wind power?
The UK is one of the best places in the world for wind power. ONS figures show that in 2020 the UK generated 75,610 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity from offshore and onshore wind. That would be enough to power 8.4 trillion LED bulbs.
Globally, the UK ranks first for total offshore wind capacity due to its location. Offshore wind is more powerful and consistent than onshore wind, so more electricity can be produced. Total offshore capacity currently stands at 10,405 MW, but is expected to be increased by 4,763 MW from wind farms under construction and 23,781 MW from additional planned projects *.
In terms of overall wind generation across the world, the UK is currently in sixth place, as shown in the table below:
|Country or territory||Installed wind capacity (MW)|
Across Europe, the UK also has the most ambitious offshore wind target, with the UK government aiming to increase offshore wind power capacity to 40 GW by 2030. This is part of a larger plan. broad target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 that aligns with the global climate goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.
* S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* At least 50% of savers who switched through our partner of choice energyhelpline between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021 saved £ 101.