Electric wind

A Carbon Trust study has found that small domestic wind turbines could provide up to 1.5TWh per year of electricity, or 0.4 per cent of the UK’s total electricity consumption.


A new Carbon Trust study into the potential of small-scale wind energy has found that small wind turbines could provide up to 1.5TWh per year of electricity and 0.6MtCO2 emissions savings.



This is based on 10 per cent of households installing turbines at costs competitive with grid electricity, which is currently around £0.12 per kWh.



The report marks the culmination of 18 months of research by the Met Office and Entec.



The study also indicates that for the UK as a whole, the majority of electricity and carbon savings are available from small turbines in rural areas.



Turbines in some rural locations, where wind speeds are generally higher, could provide cheaper electricity than the grid, but in some urban situations, roof-mounted turbines may not pay back their embedded carbon emissions.



Recommendations to improve existing government policy measures include higher height limits for standalone turbines to help maximise the overall carbon savings of small-scale wind energy; and a criterion in new grant schemes to measure likely carbon savings.



Dr Mark Williamson, director of Carbon Trust Innovations, said: ‘Small-scale wind energy is attracting growing interest and at the Carbon Trust we are receiving increasing enquiries from organisations considering installing small turbines.’


He added: ‘It’s vital that people understand the wind resources available to them and we hope they find the guidance in our report useful.



‘As one of a number of microgeneration technologies with a role to play in our future energy supply, we also believe it is essential that government policies and public funding encourage carbon savings from small wind turbines most effectively.


‘This is why we’re making recommendations about grant support and planning.’



Alex Murley, small wind systems manager at the British Wind Energy Association, said: ‘Britain has the best wind conditions in Europe, as well as a world-leading manufacturing base for small wind turbines.’


He added: ‘As we see small wind energy really start to take off, with increasing year-on-year sales of small turbines for both domestic and export markets, this report provides helpful clarifications about the nature of the UK wind resource and recommendations to maximise energy generation.’



As a follow-on project, the Carbon Trust is developing a web-based calculation tool to help organisations interested in installing small wind turbines to evaluate conditions at their sites. This incorporates wind-speed data from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre and is planned for release later in 2008.