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How to position your pole-mounted micro-wind turbine for best performance

Posted by Jason Hobbins on 28 June 2013 at 9:25 am

Location is everything, according to Phil and Kirsty. This is especially true of wind turbines, which if sited correctly will be an electricity-generating workhorse that will have earned its keep in less than 7 years. 

Variables including wind direction and wind energy levels means it’s very hard to predict the performance of a turbine over a 12-month period, so you should choose your location wisely to increase your turbine’s potential. 

5kW – 6kW small wind turbines are pole-mounted, so need lots of space

We’re looking specifically at pole-mounted small-scale wind turbines (or microwind turbines as they’re also known) in this article, which are usually 5-6kW. Although more expensive than building-mounted turbines, they produce a lot of electricity, so if your plot can accommodate it, a pole-mounted turbine is well worth the investment. 

To correctly position your pole-mounted small wind turbine for safety and for maximum benefit, it should be:

i. at least 90 metres from the nearest building;

ii. at least 5 metres above the ridge of a property to avoid air turbulence

iii. away from obstacles such as trees, again to avoid turbulence. 

Coastal areas and most of Scotland have great wind!

The wind speed on your property is the crucial factor in determining how much electricity you can produce. 

So if you live in an area that has a ‘predictable’ prevailing wind, such as on the coast or in many parts of Scotland, you’re ideally positioned to capture the 5 metres per second (5m/s) of wind needed to power your pole-mounted microwind turbine. 

Do you need planning permission? Well…. maybe.

In Wales or Northern Ireland, you do need to get planning permission to install a wind turbine.

In England and Scotland, a small-scale wind turbine is sometimes classed as Permitted Development, but as the criteria is complex and often varies, it’s always best to contact your local planning department to check. 

Domestic wind turbine manufacturer, Kingspan, has embarked on a programme with its partner installers to educate local planning departments in the aesthetics and size of microwind turbines, to try to eliminate misconceptions and drive consistency in across the country. 

Think about the impact of a wind turbine on others

It’s always a good idea to think about the impact your wind turbine might have on your neighbours, in terms of noise and aesthetics. Also remember to take into consideration local heritage and how the installation might affect birds and animals in the area. This is part of the pre-planning application stage, and your installer will be able to help you.

So you have an ideal spot for a micro turbine! Let’s talk money.

As long as your turbine is supplied and installed by an MCS-accredited company, you earn money from the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, which pays homeowners (and businesses) money for generating their own electricity. 

The new tariff for wind of 21p per kW (from 1st December 2012) can produce returns of 13%, based on an installation cost of £30,000 for a 6kW turbine. 

You can also receive an additional 4.6p for each kWh of electricity you export back to the mains grid. The savings on your energy bills can be substantial, as you’re generating a significant amount of your electricity yourself. 

These returns are similar to those from Solar PV, and in many cases, even better. A wind turbine often makes a great second source of renewable energy income for those who already have solar installed.

About the author: Jason Hobbins is Managing Director of EnergyMyWay

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

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