UK – David Cameron could have used one before he installed his turbine at home and the installers of this turbine may have found one useful, too
Because gauging the right position for wind turbines takes a great deal of calculation. Too little and it will produce more emissions than it saves. Too much wind may over-stress turbines to the point that they explode dramatically.
With this in mind, the Carbon Trust has developed a user-friendly online wind estimator for small-scale turbines. Launched today, the calculator is designed to help businesses and consumers work out how much power a turbine could generate and how much carbon it would save. Its data and user-friendliness have been welcomed by the wind turbine industry as an improvement on the existing wind speed database provided by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
The wind yield estimator should help installers put small-scale turbines in locations where they will generate the most power and save the most carbon.
A Carbon Trust study last year found that small wind turbines could provide up to 1.5 Terawatt Hours (TWh) a year of electricity (0.4% of total UK electricity consumption) and save 0.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. According to figures from the British Wind Energy Association from 2008, there were 14,225 small-scale wind turbines in the UK, with a projected increase to 27,886 by next year.
The estimator models wind behaviour using 30 years of data from the Met Office’s 220 weather stations. It asks for details such as postcode, turbine type, how close the rotor height is to the ground, tree or roof, and what the terrain is like: open countryside, woodland, or urban.
The calculator also uses data collected from the Energy Saving Trust’s micro-wind field trial, which measures wind performance, speed and direction data from 60 roof and pole-mounted micro-wind installations in the UK. Final results of the year long trial will be published at the end of May.
If the calculator’s results are good, the Carbon Trust recommends a year’s-worth of on-site wind speed monitoring. If a small wind turbine is suitable, the government provides grants towards the cost of installation through the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.
A spokesperson for the Met Office said that using “historical climate data would help people assess the potential to place a small wind turbine at their location. Applying scientific expertise from the Met Office has provided the Carbon Trust with a new way of serving businesses and the public with specific wind data for their property.”
The Carbon Trust reported last year that turbines in some rural locations can provide cheaper electricity than the grid, but in many urban situations, roof-mounted turbines may not pay back the turbine’s own carbon footprint from the energy used to manufacture it.
After criticism over ill-conceived placement of micro-turbines, the Carbon Trust claims businesses and domestic users will be more able to make better informed choices about whether a turbine is the right source of renewable energy for them.
Mark Williamson, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust, said: “In the right location small-scale wind turbines can provide both cost and carbon savings, but anyone considering installing a turbine should use the new Carbon Trust wind estimator to check before proceeding with actual on-site wind monitoring. There has been some confusion around the true performance of small wind turbines but this online tool should help to clear that up.”
Source: The Guardian