Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can Wind Turbines Be Used?
A. Modern quiet wind turbine are becoming viable in low density areas, where ease of maintenance and immediate connection to the grid or directly for use of the electricity in a building, may make them cost effective, despite lower wind speeds than in open areas. Wind turbines are generally less suited to dense urban areas as their output will be affected by potentially lower and more disrupted wind speeds, and the use of larger more cost effective machines may be prohibited by their proximity to some building types. In general, however, smaller wind turbines can be used in inner city areas as the noise output is negligible and where accurate micro-siting has been made to ensure an uninterrupted wind-flow and little turbulence.
Potential public resistance has restricted the use of large-scale wind turbines (above 50kW) although studies show that in general the local perceptions of wind farms/turbines improve once they have been erected. Less resistance has been noted for small-scale systems where the key consideration is likely to be noise, rather than visual. However, all sites should be assessed in the first instance for their suitability, as with early community involvement, a wind turbine could provide a landmark showing the commitment of a development and a particular community to sustainable development.
Community consultation and buy-in would be essential for the success of larger turbines. Small-scale turbines are likely to have less of an impact. There are examples of community groups funding their own wind turbines in the UK and similar models could be explored for further sites.
How do residential wind turbines work?
A wind turbine, which is installed on top of a tall tower, collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity that is compatible with your homes existing electrical system.In a normal residential application, both the wind turbine and your normal utility company serve a home. If the wind speeds are below the cut in speed, there will be no output from the turbine and all the power requirements are purchased from your electricity supplier. As wind speeds build, turbine output increases and the amount of power required from your electricity supplier is proportionately decreased. When the turbine produces more power than the house needs the extra electricity is sold to the national grid.
Will it help the environment if I install a wind turbine at my home?
Yes, wind turbines produce no pollution and by using wind power you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your electricity supplier. Over its life a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tonnes of air pollutants and 200 tonnes of greenhouse gases (Carbon dioxide and other gases which cause climate change)
How does a wind turbine make electricity?
The simplest way to think about this is to imagine that a wind turbine works in exactly the opposite way to a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan turbines use the wind to make electricity. Almost all wind turbines producing electricity consist of rotor blades, which rotate, in a horizontal hub. The hub is connected to a gearbox and generator, which are located inside the nacelle. The nacelle is the large part at the top of the tower where all the electrical components are located. Most wind turbines have three blades, which face into the wind, the wind turns the blades round, and this spins the shaft, this in turn connects to the generator and this is where the electricity is made. A generator is a machine that produces electrical energy from mechanical energy, as opposed to an electric motor that does the opposite.
How fast do the blades turn?
The blades rotate at anything between 50-100 revolutions per minute at constant speed.
Do I need planning permission before installation of a wind turbine?
Prior to purchasing a wind turbine it is important that you make contact with your local Planning Department at your local Council to ascertain if Planning Permission is required at your location.
What is the best position to locate a wind turbine?
It is recommended that to benefit from the prevailing wind direction in you area, a wind turbine should be located in the most exposed area possible.
Can I find out about wind speeds in my local area?
Yes you can follow the link www.bwea.com/noabl/index.html and get an average wind speed for your area.
Do wind turbines make a noise or interfere with TV reception?
Small wind turbines do make some noise, but not enough to concern most people. Wind turbines do not interfere with TV reception.
Do wind turbines frighten livestock?
Wind farming is popular with farmers, because their land can continue to be used for growing crops or grazing livestock. Wind turbines do not disturb sheep, cows and horses.