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Small Wind Machines help solve a national energy problem August 9, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in Wind Power.
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“In theory, small-scale wind energy has the potential to generate 41.3 TWh of electricity and save 17.8 MtCO2 in the UK annually.”

Thus begins an informative report on the use of small wind turbines at individual home sites to address the national energy problem in the UK. And although the focus, and the examples, are British, the solutions offered are universal. This is no puff piece with cliche answers. The solutions are realistic enough to adequately discuss the needs and options in laymen’s terms.

For example, in discussing methodology of calculating savings, it suggests that the biggest cost driver is the costs of turbine installations. “Since the costs of maintaining turbines tend to be low, upfront capital costs are the primary drivers of costs of energy, and capital cost reductions are most likely to lead to cost of energy reductions.”

The report helps with siting considerations. Turbines work best when they are out by themselves, or upwind of a single building. There is a good description of the effects of building spacing on wind turbulence and how the buildings slow the strength of the wind forces – a good thing in the city, but bad for generating electricity efficiently. This is one reason why there are nine times more wind turbines in rural areas than in cities. The study found that “small turbines in rural locations may achieve capacity factors of around 15-20%, but urban turbines are likely to have significantly lower factors, with less than 10% being common.”

The report also describes the carbon savings potential with implementing small turbines throughout England. Imagine the savings if this were implemented in the USA, if worldwide!

Read this report and you can pretend to be an expert. It is well-written with substantive research and solid recommendations. Find it here.

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