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Generating renewable electricity

Wind turbines

Benefits

  • cut your electricity bills
  • cut your carbon footprint
  • store electricity for a calm day

How do wind turbines work?

Wind turbines harness the power of the wind and use it to generate electricity. When the wind blows, the blades are forced round, driving a turbine that generates electricity. The stronger the wind, the more electricity produced.

There are two types of domestic-sized wind turbine:

  • Pole mounted – these are free standing and are erected in a suitably exposed position, with generation capacity of about 5-6kW.
  • Building mounted – these are smaller than mast mounted systems and can be installed on the roof of a home where there is a suitable wind resource. Often these are around 1-2kW in size.

Benefits of wind turbines

Cut your electricity bills

Wind is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation and maintenance costs, your electricity costs will be reduced.

Cut your carbon footprint

Wind generated electricity is renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.

Store electricity for a calm day

If your home isn’t connected to the grid and you have battery storage, you can store excess electricity and use it when there is no wind.

Costs, savings and financial support

Costs

The cost of a system will depend on the size and the mounting method. Building-mounted turbines cost less to install than pole-mounted ones, but they tend to be smaller and less efficient.

For equipment and installation, a 5kW pole-mounted system costs between £23,000 and £34,000.

Savings

A well-sited 5kW turbine can generate around 7,500kWh a year, which could save you around £340 a year on your electricity bills. The renewable energy generated could also save around 1.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Financial support

You may be able to claim Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) payments for any surplus electricity you export to the grid. The Smart Export Guarantee replaced the previous Feed-in Tariff, which closed to new applications at the end of March 2019.

A well-sited 5kW pole mounted turbine could typically earn about £235 per year in SEG payments.

Maintenance

Maintenance checks are necessary every few years, and will generally cost around £100 to £200 per year depending on turbine size.

A well-maintained turbine should last more than 20 years, but you may need to replace the inverter at some stage during this time, at a cost of £1,000 to £2,000 for a large system.

For off grid systems, batteries will also need replacing, typically every six to 10 years. The cost of replacing batteries varies depending on the design and scale of the system.

Any backup generator will also have its own fuel and maintenance costs.

Last updated: 26 November 2021