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Wind of Change

Date: 15 February 2013

Historically, wind power has not been a widely specified source of renewable energy for social housing. HABM finds out what the latest generation of wind turbines can offer to make specifiers reconsider their views of this technology.

Renewables currently generate around 10% of the UK’s electricity, but there is some way to go to achieve the 20% target by 2020. With onshore wind power the cheapest available; housing associations can reap huge benefits by harnessing the power of the wind. If a small wind turbine is eligible for the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) scheme and connected to the grid in a location with high wind speeds, consumers can sell generated electricity to an electricity supply company and earn an added export tariff. If a wind turbine is not connected to the grid, surplus electricity can be stored in a battery.

In recent years, heavy investment in technology and engineering has been made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of small wind turbines. Concern for noise pollution has been addressed and manufactures are remodelling blades to reduce noise so wind turbines can be used in a residential setting with minimal intrusion to local residents.

Product Development

Kestrel manufacturing director, Johan Ferreira, adds: “In manufacturing there is continual development. Noise is a main concern for home installations, but we have also addressed other areas. The generator had improved efficiency; pitch control enables the turbine to maintain rated output, however hard the wind blows.” Research and development tests have shown the e400nb wind turbine does not brake or turn away from the wind. At a wind speed of 38km/h (or 550 revolutions per minute) the blades are fully pitched and the machine continues to generate maximum power. At a small wind level (<50kW), there are MCS standards for wind turbine installers and products. MCS installers and products are mandatory for FIT’s and installer companies must belong to a consumer code of practice. At the moment, there is only one, the REAL Assurance Code. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) FIT scheme has a roster of government-approved small wind turbines which can earn owners an income as well as power homes. Recent MCS certification on behalf of the DECC, focussed on ensuring the quality of renewable technology installations and products.

In the process, only one small wind turbine in the less thank 5kW category achieved the prestigious category one certificate. The e400nb is verified by design to be a class one small wind turbine which means it has withstood 156mph wind. It can produce 3.922kWh annually and with the FIT scheme paying 28p per kWh produced, owners can earn £1 098 per year, be less reliant on the grid and eco-friendly.

Consistent Energy Production

“Solid returns from renewable energy, new technology and improved government incentives, makes it easier to become less reliant on fossil fuels,” comments Kestrel director, Leon Gouws. “The UK government’s target for 20% of the energy to be produced from renewable sources by 2020 and the certification process means people can support this vision, with knowledge their turbine is robust enough to withstand the toughest of winds and is reliable to ensure consistent energy production.”
Small wind turbines need to be sited appropriately with good wind resource. Normally sites in Scotland or near the coast prove best suited, but your installer ideally MCS-approved, can advise on the best location and accurately predict energy out based on your co-ordinates. Small wind turbines in areas with good wind speeds and no nearby obstructions – for example near the coast or in high or exposed locations – payback financially and in terms of carbon savings, in a relatively short time. As energy outputs vary from location to location, the Energy Saving Trust recommends:

-at least a three month period of advance wind speed testing is put in place before making a decision to install a wind turbine (or seek advice from an MCS installer company)

-installing MCS certified products and using MCS installer companies – MCS wind turbines are tested over a period of time in robust weather conditions and verify manufacturer’s durability, safety and performance data. We can all help make a difference and work towards the UK’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 – and technology is making it easier for us all.



Publication: HA Building & Maintenance - 15 February 2013

 

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