Wind energy: how does it work and can it power my home?  - Forbes

Wind energy: how does it work and can it power my home? – Forbes

The use of wind energy is becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that between 2009 and 2020, electricity generation from wind power increased by an incredible 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 energy 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 turbine’s fan-like blades are pushed around the rotor. The rotor is connected to a generator that produces electricity that feeds the national grid. The stronger the wind, the more electricity is generated.

Wind turbines are often grouped together in wind farms – referred to as “arrays” – so that more power can be generated. These farms are usually located in open areas (“onshore”), or off the coast in shallow water (“offshore”) areas.

The UK is currently home to 2,450 wind farm sites with 8,681 onshore wind turbines and about 2,292 more offshore.

Hornsey 1, located off the coast of Yorkshire, is the largest offshore wind farm in the world. With 174 wind turbines, it produces enough energy to power more than a million homes. Eight other major offshore wind projects are still under development in the UK, including Hornsea 2.

What is happening in the UK energy market?

There are currently no power deals priced below standard tariffs, so we have temporarily suspended our conversion service.

Does my energy supplier use wind energy?

Whether your supplier uses wind energy will depend in part on whether they offer “green energy” tariffs. With this type of tariff, you can still get electricity from the national grid in the same way that a family gets the non-green tariff. But your supplier will match some or all of the electricity you use with the amount he buys from renewable generators.

Some of this renewable energy can come from wind farms, but it may also come from solar farms or hydropower plants.

This means that if you choose a green energy tariff, it does not automatically mean that you are choosing a supplier that owns wind or solar farms. But it may have deals to buy power from renewable generators.

Energy companies are required by law to publish details of their fuel mix, so take a look at your supplier’s website or your energy bill to see what percentage of the electricity your supplier generates is from renewable sources.

How can I find a supplier that uses wind energy?

You’ll need to dig a little deeper if you want to be absolutely sure that your power supply is using wind power.

Supplier websites should detail how they generate electricity, but it is not always easy to decipher. Some suppliers may use only wind energy, while others combine it with other renewable sources such as solar energy and hydropower systems.

For particularly “green” energy suppliers, take a look at Outfox the Market, which generates all of its electric power from wind power, with the company stating that it only uses offshore wind farms.

Instead, Ecotricity says that all of the electricity it produces comes from wind or solar power and it produces about a fifth of the same electricity from its “fleet of windmills and solar mills.” The rest is purchased 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 at home. But this will not be without challenges.

For a start, it will only work if you have a good wind site – ideally if you live on higher ground or on the coast. Rural areas are better than urban areas, and you will need to check for obstructions such as trees or tall buildings. Wind turbines ideally need an average wind speed of 5 m/s (meters per second) to be cost-effective.

Next, you will need to choose your wind turbine.

There are two types of wind turbines of local size. The first is mounted on a pole. These are self-contained and should be installed in a suitable exposed position. They have a generating capacity of about 5-6 kilowatts per day, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

The second is building. These are smaller than pole mounted systems which means they can be installed on the roof of your property, provided there are sufficient wind resources. These usually have a daily generating capacity of 1-2kW.

The average household uses 3,731 kWh of electricity annually, according to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The Energy Saving Trust says that a well-located 5 kW turbine can generate around 9,000 kWh per year, which could save you around £280 per year on your electricity bills.

Separate figures from The Renewable Energy Hub show that a 1.5 kW roof-mounted turbine generates about 2,600 kWh per year depending on wind speed and occurrence. A 1 kW turbine can generate about 1750 kWh per year.

Before installing your wind turbine, check with your local council to see if you need planning permission. It is also a good practice to inform your neighbors of your plans at an early stage. And you should talk to your power supplier if you want to connect your turbines to the national grid.

What is the cost of installation?

Because building-mounted turbines are smaller, they cost less to install than shaft-mounted turbines – usually from £1,500 and up. However, it is also less efficient and will not produce as much electricity.

A 5 kW shaft mounted system will set you back between £23,000 and £34,000 for equipment and installation.

Can you make money installing wind turbines?

If you generate enough electricity by installing wind turbines, you will be eligible for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) program. Launched in 2020, the scheme replaced the government’s tariff program.

To qualify, the installation capacity must be 5MW or less. And you’ll need a meter that can provide readings every half hour so your supplier can see how much electricity you’re exporting.

If you sign up for a SEG tariff, you will be paid for any excess electricity you generate which is returned to the national grid.

The rate of payment, contract term, and whether tariffs are fixed or variable is up to your supplier to decide. The SEG flat tariff pays a specific price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity exported for the duration of the contract. A variable tariff will have fluctuating prices depending on market demand, but prices cannot fall below zero.

Do wind turbines work without wind?

If the wind speed is too low, the wind turbines will simply stop spinning and no electricity will be generated. This means that it can be difficult to predict exactly how much electricity a wind turbine will generate over time.

This also means that if wind energy is used exclusively, it will need to be combined with an energy storage system, similar to that used by solar panels.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy?

There are pros and cons to any energy source and wind power is no different:

Positives

  • renewable energy source
  • Once the turbines are running, operating costs are low
  • Wind turbines do not take up much land
  • It creates jobs in wind energy.

Negatives

  • The amount of electricity generated can fluctuate depending on the weather
  • Wind turbines can destroy habitats for birds and marine life
  • Wind farms can be expensive
  • Wind turbines create noise and visual pollution.

How does the UK compare to other countries in its use of wind energy?

The UK is one of the best locations for wind energy in the world. Office for National Statistics figures show that in 2020, the UK generated 75,610 GWh of electricity from offshore and onshore winds. This will be enough to power 8.4 trillion LEDs.

Globally, the UK ranks first in total offshore wind capacity due to its location. Offshore winds are more powerful and stable than onshore winds, so more electricity can be generated. Total offshore capacity is currently 10,405 MW, but it is expected to be boosted by 4,763 MW from wind farms under construction and 23,781 MW from additional projects planned*.

In terms of total wind production worldwide, the UK is currently ranked sixth, as the table below shows:

Country or Territory Installed wind power capacity (MW)
China 281993
United State 117,744
Germany 62184
India 38559
Spain 27,089
United kingdom 24665
Source: IRENA: Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2021

Across Europe, the UK also has the most ambitious offshore wind target, with the UK government aiming to increase offshore wind capacity to 40 GW by 2030. This is part of a larger plan aimed at achieving net zero emissions by 2050 which aligns with With the global climate goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

* S&P Global Market Intelligence.


What is happening in the UK energy market?

There are currently no power deals priced below standard tariffs, so we have temporarily suspended our conversion service.

#Wind #energy #work #power #home #Forbes

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