Suburban Home Owners Cautioned On Wind Turbines

While the idea of wind turbine in the back yard may be attractive to many, the British Wind Energy Association has warned that home owners may be disappointed by the performance of wind turbines in built-up residential areas.

In a study commissioned by the British Wind Energy Association and carried out by Encraft, it was determined that the average energy generated per turbine across 26 sites was just 214 watt hours per day; including times when turbines were switched off for maintenance or due to failures. This works out to an average of 78 kWh of energy produced per site per year and an average capacity factor of only 0.85%.

This poor performance was largely due to wind obstructions and poor turbine placement choices available in suburban areas. While wind data may show suitable speeds in an area; often buildings and other obstacles will be in the way; dramatically cutting down on actual average wind speed close to the ground.

However, turbines on high rise sites in the study were able generate as much energy in one month as other turbines in the trial did in one year. The poorest site generated a measly 41 watt hours per day when in operation or 15 kWh per year, not even enough energy to run the turbine’s own electronics.

Energy Matters, one of Australia’s leading renewable energy companies, supplies and installs wind turbines but often advises their suburban clients to opt for solar power systems over wind energy for many of the reasons stated in the BWEA/Encraft study. Additionally, gaining council permission for the installation of a wind turbine in suburbia can often meet with stiff resistance. Energy Matters offers a free guide entitled  “Is Wind Power Right For You?” to help home owners gauge the suitability of wind turbines as a renewable energy option.