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Buying a wind turbine? 10 must-ask questions

Posted by David Hunt on 25 February 2011 at 10:11 am

There is a huge amount of interest in wind turbines as a way of generating clean, green electricity and healthy financial returns, despite the wealth of myths, prejudice and misinformation. A well placed wind turbine pays for itself in three to six years, and provides an annual return on investment of 20% plus.

However, it is vital to get the right machine and, most of important of all, the right location and installation. If you are thinking of installing a wind turbine here are a few questions we suggest you consider and ask your installer.

1. How many wind turbines of the model you are looking at have been installed? And have they accumulated a credible amount of run time over a realistic period? 

2. Is there local support in my area who can help or advise me with pre-sales, planning, after-sales and servicing? Are there customers that I can speak to about this product in my area?   

3. What is the annual running cost of the wind turbine (excluding up front capital) and what parts are considered consumables?  

4. What is the warranty period and the terms associated with it? Who warrants each part of the process: equipment, tower and installation?  

5. Do I need a three phase electricity supply to connect to the grid?

6. Does the product qualify for the Feed-In Tariff (MCS certified) and is the manufacturer accredited to ISO 9001?

7. Why do some wind turbines have different numbers of blades and what is the advantage of three blades versus two?

8. How reliable is the product and what are the key product features that affect its reliability?

9. How much space is required to install and service the wind turbine? Does this mean that I can’t use this land after installation?

10. What is the annual power output that I can realistically expect from my wind turbine solution and how have you worked this out?

Your installer should be able to talk you through all aspects of the machine and installation, including planning permission, safe siting, grid connection, performance and maintenance.

About the author: David Hunt was Head of Commercial for Renewable Solutions UK Ltd. He no longer works in the renewable energy sector.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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