UK to trial household wind turbines

British Gas

recently announced plans that will allow homeowners to generate their own free supply of electricity from the wind. The UK’s largest energy supplier has signed an agreement with Windsave to make roof-top wind turbines available to UK households.

An initial pilot later this year will see the household windmills installed on selected properties, both private and local authority owned, in Scotland and the South West and, if successful, will be rolled out across the country.

The Windsave rooftop model is expected to produce around 1kw of electricity to supplement the property’s existing national grid supply, enough to power a TV and DVD player, computer, fridge and freezer and several lights.

Dr Diana Montgomery, Head of Environment Strategy at British Gas said, “Having a roof-top turbine means householders can save money and help do their bit for the environment. Initial estimates show one unit could cut annual electricity bills by up to a third and reduce CO2 emissions by half a tonne per annum.”

According to a statement, the micro-wind generators are plugged directly into the mains through a standard 3 pin plug and can operate in wind speeds as low as three miles per hour.

A cable leads directly from the turbine into a control box where sophisticated electronics smooth out the rough electricity created by the wind power and convert it to match the mains frequency so it can be fed into the household mains through a 13 amp plug.

British Gas plans to use its nationwide network of engineers to install the turbines which, similar in size to a satellite dish, can be bolted on to a wall or gable end. The company’s engineers will also be on hand to maintain the systems through an annual maintenance contract.

While prices will not be confirmed until after the trials British Gas currently estimates that the turbines will retail at around £1500 which will include full installation. Householders may be able to benefit from subsidies towards the cost of installation as part of the Government’s Clear Skies programme.