Windmills (now in the form of wind turbines) have been used for millennia to convert the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy. As early as 200 B.C., mechanical energy was used for specific tasks including grinding grain and pumping water. Nowadays, wind turbines harness kinetic energy from the air and convert it into electricity via a generator.
Much like solar PV installations, you can purchase a domestic wind turbine to supply as much or as little electricity as you want. If you are hoping to limit your dependence on the mains as much as possible, you will need a larger turbine, or multiple smaller turbines. If you are simply looking to produce enough electricity for a light in your garden shed, you can get away with a very small turbine.
Below we look at the different types of wind turbine system you can install in your property.
Battery-less grid tied systems
Battery-less grid tied systems are the simplest, most effective and most environmentally-friendly wind turbine systems. Their role is simple: to produce the most electricity possible to provide electricity for your home and also feed into the grid. Due to the availability of grants such as the feed-in tariffs in the UK, this type of system has grown enormously in popularity in recent years. In these installations, the home owner can effectively sell the surplus energy back to the utility company. There are no batteries in the system, so this removes a lot of the system complication and maintenance. The lack of batteries also makes it cheaper to install.
If your aim is to become completely unreliant on the grid, then you need to ensure the electricity produced by your battery-less grid tied system is in excess of your total electricity usage for the year. However, this system should suit most budgets, because it will reduce reliance on the energy companies, by significantly reducing your bills. If you cannot produce all your electricity, the shortfall is simply made up with electricity from the grid.
There is one major drawback with this setup, and that is that if there is a electrical power cut then you will have no power for your home, because the inverter your energy goes through is connected to mains power, so you may require a generator (powered by diesel or oil) as a back-up policy.
Grid-tied system with battery backup
This is essentially the same as the grid-tied system above, but has a bank of batteries which means that if there is a grid power cut, the inverter can still get the electricity it requires to operate, so the installation will keep providing you with electricity. The constraints of this system are primarily associated with the batteries, which are expensive and require regular maintenance. Finally, add extra inefficiency into the system (ranging from 5 – 40%) and this is added to the constraint side.
This system has no connection at all to the grid, relying instead on batteries to operate if no wind is blowing. However if the capacity of these batteries is too low, then you could be without any power for a prolonged period of time. Having a system off-grid presents an ideal situation as you become completely independent from the grid, and you produce all the electricity you need. However, this type of system tends to be the most expensive and also is maintenance-heavy. If you have a garden shed that needs lighting then this system can work out relatively cheaply, but as soon as you are looking to upscale then it becomes very expensive.
In the next section we look at the components that you need for a successful wind turbine installation.
Wind turbines allow you to produce 100% clean, free electricity.
Wind turbines can be considered a bit of an eyesore and often have to be limited to rural areas.
Entirely dependent on the size of the wind turbine, from £1k – £10k.
Why do people hate wind turbines?
September 2, 2013
Over recent years the polarising impact of wind turbines seems to have become an every day occurrence in the media.
But why are people so against wind turbines? And why is the UK so hell-bent on persevering with it as a technology?
In the following blog I am going to look at some of the issues that people have with them and whether they do have a future in our energy mix – but first I am going to provide a quick recap on what they are and why we have them.
On a very basic level a wind turbine comprises of rotor blades positioned at the top of very high towers. They spin as wind hits them, which produces electricity.
The rotor blades are much like the propellers of aeroplanes, however in the case of commercial wind turbines they tend to be much much larger. Blade Dynamics, a company that specialises in making the rotors of wind turbines has recently announced the D49 – with a rotor diameter of 100m, so technology is always advancing and units are getting bigger and more efficient.
The reason for maximising the length of the blades, is that the larger the swept area of a turbine (this is the circle that the turbine produces while spinning) the more wind it will catch and therefore this increases the energy it can create.
The reason for situating the turbines atop high towers, is that wind speeds tend to be higher at altitude and the power contained in the wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed, so for example if a the wind speed is 3mph then the power is calculated as such 3 x 3 x 3 = 27. If the wind speed doubles to 6mph then the power is 6 x 6 x 6 = 216.
So since wind turbines catch more wind if they are bigger and there is more power in the wind at higher altitudes, companies looking to take advantage of wind energy make their wind turbines huge, for example the one proposed by Blade Dynamics will be 270m tall.
Why are wind farms built in the first place?
Wind farms are just a collection of wind turbines – they are now pretty common across the UK. They are being built as a result of the Government trying to decarbonise our energy industry. In the past we have relied on fossil fuels and nuclear energy to meet our energy demand, and to be honest this is still the case.
But as part of the Kyoto agreement that was signed in 1997, the UK agreed legally binding targets to lower our carbon emissions as part of an effort to combat climate change. I think this then brings the discussion to the first issue that some people feel pretty strongly about!
Why All the Hate?!
Reason 1 – People think that Climate Change doesn’t even exist
In my opinion it probably does – we can see changes in our climate – across the world there are extreme weather situations happening all the time. But climate change still remains one of the most polarising subjects of our time. There are people who will argue till they are blue in the face that the changes in weather are just a natural cyclical event and not the result of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. So these people are obviously questioning the need to decarbonise the energy industry and therefore the reason for having wind turbines in the first place.
This unfortunately is not something I can counter – it is true that you can use science to allegedly prove anything – I once read that men with beards are statistically more likely to get cancer – obviously complete rubbish. This issue is however that even though decent scientists have all written publications on their findings, these scientists sit in both camps – believers and non-believers – so actually how do we know who to believe!
Reason 2 – The landscape gets scarred
I think another major reason that people hate wind turbines is that as I mentioned before they are huge. The wind companies are looking to maximise the energy they can produce so they build them big and people in the vicinity feel that they are a blot on the landscape.
I can’t sit here and argue that they don’t change the way an area looks. I think it is more the issue that people are ingrained to hate change. As a child growing up now, they must see wind turbines when they travel across the country and so these things must now be normal to them. I think this is where we will see a step change in acceptance. As our youth grow up, there will be generational acceptance of wind farms – they are the norm, just as a big coal power plant or nuclear power plant have been for us growing up.
Reason 3 – They are just sat there not spinning
This is the nature of the beast unfortunately – if the wind ain’t blowing, then the turbines ain’t going to be spinning. Therefore people assume they are useless and don’t contribute to our energy mix. This is a bit like a coal or gas power plant having no access to their required fuels – now I know this is ridiculous since we have always had a steady supply of coal and gas, but what if this were to change, the supply was interrupted – we need to have some capacity in our grid that we can use that doesn’t rely on a tangible fuel (e.g. gas, coal or uranium). This means that if everything dropped through the floor – at least there would be some means of making electricity on a commercial scale.
So yes sometimes wind turbines aren’t going to be spinning, but most of the time they are at least contributing something to our energy mix, and let me be quite clear I am not saying get rid of all energy from fossil fuels, I think we need a sensible energy mix and wind in my opinion has an important role to play.
But just for the record in June this year, wind accounted for over 5GW of power – more than 10% of our energy demand – and that number can’t be sniffed at.
Reason 4 – Wind energy is expensive to produce
Currently producing energy from wind costs more than producing it from traditional fuels. This is mainly due to Government grants being paid when the wind turbines are in operation.
The thing is though, in theory once a wind turbine is up, the electricity it produces only requires the wind to blow. If we could introduce economies of scale to drive down the cost of installing the turbines – then surely we are on to a winner – the problem is that to get there we need to increase production to drive down prices so at the moment we are going to have to suck it up and pay higher prices.
On another note, we currently import much of our gas and coal from the world market, but the proportion that we import is going to increase significantly over the next 5 years. As we saw in our extended winter this year, our gas reserves ran dangerously low and we had to spend big to secure additional supplies.
The way it has played out with North Sea Gas in that everyone pretty much now has a gas central heating system. Unfortunately North Sea Gas isn’t there anymore, now you have probably heard about the potential of shale. I think I can say with some certainty that this isn’t an immediate fix. Even if we can access large amounts of gas and the alleged environmental impacts are unfounded, this supply of gas is not going to become plentiful for the next 5-10 years.
Now fuel prices are already ludicrous in my opinion, rising at 10% a year for the last 8 years, and if you think fuel prices are coming down then I think you are probably living in dream world. So how long before the tipping point is reached. Not necessarily by the cost of wind installation coming down (although naturally this will) but rather the price of producing energy from traditional other fuels rising.
As a final thought….
Google recently acquired Makani power, a Californian start up wind Power Company that is trying to harness wind speeds thousands of meters up in the air by tethering ‘wind kites’ to the ground. The theory being: that if these wind turbines sit at such altitude then they can be much smaller in size, because they would then utilise higher and more consistent wind speeds. The Google bods tend to make fairly sensible investment decisions – so it must point to wind having a future, it just might be in a much more evolved form!
To maximise the electricity contribution that a wind turbine can provide you with, two interlinked questions need to be considered:
How much electricity you would like to produce?
How much electricity you can produce on your property?
How much electricity do you need your turbine to produce?
You first you need to decide exactly what you are trying to achieve by installing a wind turbine on your property. Are you trying to become completely independent from the grid? Are you simply trying to decrease you electricity bills having received a capital lump sum that you can invest? Do you simply want a wind turbine to power a light in your garden shed? Obviously the larger the turbine, the more electricity it will produce; however larger turbines will be more costly.
By looking at utility bills from previous quarters, you can get a feel for your total electricity usage over a year. You can get more accurate readings if you go around your property and complete an energy assessment of your current load (simply the total energy that each appliance in your house uses over a certain period of time). This involves producing a table with each appliance, its draw in watts (measured using a watt plug in meter – sometimes known as a wattmeter), and the estimated time of use in a 24 hour cycle. With all this information you can complete a much more accurate total yearly assessment of usage of your house (by multiplying usage for a 24 hour cycle by 365 days).
Having a feel for your total energy usage should help you decide what you are trying to achieve with your turbine. There are several wind turbine setups which we have described in more detail below.
How much electricity can your system produce?
It is really important that you have a target electricity figure in your mind that you are aiming to achieve, be it 50% of your total energy requirements, or becoming fully self sufficient. However, this may not be possible if there are constraints on your property, such as lack of space or low average wind speed.
This is the key factor and we usually use average wind speed as the measurement for your particular location. You cannot directly affect the average wind speed at your home; however your choice of site and tower height can have a dramatic impact on the wind resource. The power available for the wind that is blowing is the cube of the wind speed – this is absolutely fundamental, and this can be seen in the simple sums below:
3mph – 3 x 3 x 3 = 27kWh
6mph – 6 x 6 x 6 = 216kWh
12mph – 12 x 12 x 12 = 1,728kWh
This is excellent news, as the further you get away from the surface of the earth and its many obstructions (e.g. houses), the higher the wind speed: therefore the more power in the wind. This means it is important to try and maximise the height of any tower you use, to try to maximise the wind potential of your wind turbine system.
The swept area is the circle that the turbine produces when spinning, so this is the diameter of the blades. The blades are driven by the power in the wind, so the larger your swept area, the more energy you can harness. Again the easiest way to illustrate this is with some more simple sums (apologies for those adverse to maths!), where the area of a circle is half the diameter2 x π. (π = 3.14)
3 foot diameter = 1.5 x 1.5 x 3.14 = 7ft2
6 foot diameter = 3 x 3 x 3.14 = 28ft2
12 foot diameter = 6 x 6 x 3.14 = 113ft2
Taking into account these two factors, you can see the maximum electricity you can produce. Remember that wind speed is free (although towers obviously cost more money the higher they are), while investing in bigger and bigger turbines gets more expensive.
What size turbine should you be looking at?
The size of your wind turbine is therefore determined by the amount of electricity you are looking to produce (but potentially constrained by windspeed and space), and secondly the amount of cash you have available.
Unlike solar photovoltaic cells that can be added to fairly easily as additional funds become available, the turbine blades would need to be replaced, and potentially the generator changed if you want to produce more power in the future. Home scale generators normally are between 8 and 25 feet in diameter (so a swept area of between 50 – 500 feet2). If you have an average wind speed of 10 mph, these could produce between 1,000 and 15,000 kWh. An average house uses approximately 4,800 kWh per year, so a 25 foot diameter turbine is going to produce a serious excess of power to sell back to the grid, or power more than one house.
Final thoughts on wind turbines
Contact your local council to ask about planning permission if you’re considering installing a wind turbine. The majority of local authorities are keen to encourage the installation of renewable energy systems. However it is a good idea to consult your neighbours before investing time and money into the planning phase, to allow them to voice any objections.
Average wind speed
Before you even consider investing in a wind turbine, you need to check your average wind speed. The Carbon Trust have created a tool that allows you to estimate the wind yield at your home location. You are looking for an average wind speed in excess of 5m/s. By providing simple information regarding your location and type of turbine, the tool will give you average wind speed and potential energy output.
In the UK, as a wind turbine owner you can benefit from the Feed-in tariffs. There are different allowances depending on the power output of your equipment. Wind turbines above 5MW are classified as commercial and alternatively benefit from the Renewable Obligation Certificates. The Feed-in tariffs basically provide you with a source of income for every kWh of electricity you produce. This is independent from any excess electricity you sell back to the grid, which you further benefit from in the form of the export tariff. This can really help a wind turbine become an economically viable system to put into your house.
When air hits the wind turbine, the blades spin, converting the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy. This rotary motion then travels down the shaft and drives a generator where the electricity is produced. Typically most wind turbines are mounted in the horizontal plane (like the propeller of a plane), and therefore it is key the blades are facing directly into the wind.
The yaw angle is the difference in angle between the wind direction and the direction in which the rotors are facing. The aim is to minimise the yaw angle as much as possible, so most residential wind turbines tend to have tails which orientate the turbine to best capture the wind. Wind turbines should therefore be able to rotate 3600 on yaw bearings.
There are 2 main styles of urban wind turbines:
Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT)
This is a propeller type rotor mounted on the horizontal axis. As mentioned previously, the blades need to be aligned with the wind and this is done by either a simple tail, or an active yaw. These are more efficient at producing electricity than VAWTs however they are impacted more by changes in wind direction.
Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT)
These are aligned in the vertical axis (like the rotor blades on a helicopter). These are only really deployed within urban areas, where the flow of air is more uneven. Due to their alignment, wind direction has little impact on this type of turbine; however it is apparent that these are less efficient than their HAWT cousins.
In addition to HAWTs and VAWTs there are hybrid turbines that are cylindrical (imagine a gyroscope) – such as the energy ball.
At TheGreenAge, we suggest sticking with the HAWTs as they are the more proven technology, and are offered by more suppliers, so you will be able to get better value for money.
Most turbines tends to have two or three blades, two bladed turbines are cheaper but suffer from blade chatter which puts stress on the system, which can lead to increased maintenance further down the line. If you can afford to get a three bladed turbine, we suggest doing so, as these don’t suffer from this problem at all.
Three types of tower exist: tilt-up, fixed guyed and free standing. The purpose of these towers is to position the turbines in the best possible position to take advantage of the wind.
Tilt-up towers are held in position by four guy ropes one of which can be released, allowing you to lower the tower, so you can work on the turbine.
Fixed guyed towers are similar to tilt-up towers, except they are permanently fixed in place so you need to climb the tower to do any maintenance.
Free standing towers have no guy ropes. As such they require a very solid foundation. Therefore these are certainly the most expensive, but may well be the most aesthetically pleasing.
Most wind turbines produce AC current, so this should be able to be directly fed into your home and the grid, however the voltage and frequency of the power produced is very erratic, so an inverter is used to convert the erratic AC to DC, then back to a smoother AC which can be synchronised with the grid, or for use directly into your home. Battery-based wind turbines normally operate at 12 or 48 Volts, and therefore the inverter must also act to convert this relatively low voltage to high voltage (UK mains is 240 volts). Battery-less systems may produce electricity with a voltage significantly higher (100 volts or more). Therefore in this situation, the inverter needs to be able to handle this higher voltage.
In most wind turbine systems, the electricity does not power any appliances directly. Instead the electricity produced is stored in deep-cycle lead acid batteries which look very similar to the ones found in most cars today (although structurally different). The two most popular types of battery are GEL and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM), which store the charge very well and do not degrade nearly as fast as the common lead acid (wet cell) battery. Both types of batteries are designed to gradually discharge slowly and recharge 80% of their capacity hundreds of times.
An automotive battery is a shallow-cycle battery, and this is designed to discharge only about 20% of its electricity so is unsuitable for solar photovoltaic cell set-up. The reason is that if any more than 20% is drawn more than a few dozen times, it will get damaged and no longer take charge.
Wind turbine batteries tend to operate at 12v, and can be arranged in banks (multiple batteries), increasing the storage potential of your wind system set up. A bank of batteries organised in a series increases the capacity of your storage but also increases the voltage delivered from your bank; while multiple batteries organised in a parallel circuit increase the capacity, but the voltage stays the same.
Charge controllers are used in wind turbine systems to prevent the batteries from being overcharged. If you decide to implement a grid tie system, a charge controller is not necessary, as any excess electricity that you don’t use at any particular moment is sold directly back to the grid. However, for any battery setup, a charge controller is necessary as it prevents damage to the battery by monitoring the flow of electricity in and out. If your system overcharges the battery it will damage it. The same is also true if you completely discharge all the charge held within the battery.
Most charge controllers associated with wind turbines have dump load capability associated with them. This allows any additional charge to be diverted from the batteries when they are full, potentially to a hot water heating system (so the electricity is not completely wasted). Obviously if you are connected to the grid, this electricity would instead be sold there, providing you with an additional income stream.
Most charge controllers are also equipped with maximum power point (MPPT) charging. The principle of MPPT is to extract the maximum available power from the wind turbine by making them operate at the most efficient voltage (known as the maximum power point voltage). The algorithm included in the MPPT charge controller compares the output from the wind turbine with the battery voltage and then fixes it at the best charging voltage, to get the maximum charge into the battery.
Disconnects are simply switches that allow you to isolate parts of the system so you can troubleshoot or repair faulty parts without the risk of being electrocuted. In addition many wind turbine systems are grounded, so that if there is surge in current anywhere in the system it is safely dissipated rather than damaging the system or more importantly you!
Installing a wind turbine
Are you thinking about installing a wind turbine at home? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
If you would like us to find you a local installer to help install a wind turbine at home, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!
Pros and Cons of Onshore Wind Turbines
March 7, 2013
UK Onshore Wind Turbines
In this weeks blog we are going to look at the advantages of onshore wind turbines. In the UK, wind energy plays a significant role in our energy mix, providing enough electricity to power 4.5m homes in total.
Onshore wind has an installed capacity of 5,619MW, roughly twice that of offshore wind, and produces about 13,000GWh of electricity, enough to power about 3m homes per year.
There has been lots of press attention recently over the role of wind turbines in our energy mix, so we are going to weigh up what we see as the potential advantages and disadvantages of this form of renewable technology.
Advantages of Onshore Wind Turbines
It is a proven Technology
It is already helping provide a significant amount of electricity to the grid. In 2010, onshore electricity provided about 7TWh of electricity to the grid, approximately 25% of the renewable energy in the energy mix in the UK.
It is thought that this might be as high as 30TWh by 2020.
It is comparatively Cheap
Onshore Winds primary advantage is that it is the cheapest renewable energy source currently available to the UK, working out at about 8p / kWh. This puts it slightly more expensive that gas and the other more established fossil fuels which come in about 4-7p / kWh, but is substantially lower than situating the turbines out at sea.
It is quick to install
While a nuclear power station might take in excess of 20 years to construct from the initial planning permission phase, a wind turbine can go up and start providing electricity to the grid in a matter of months.
Limitations of Onshore Wind Turbines
Not 100% Green
So are wind turbines completely green? Well no, despite producing emission free electricity when in operation, they are limited emissions associated with their manufacture and installation.
Some people who live in close proximity of the wind turbines complain of the noise they make when the wind is blowing. The infographic from GE demonstrates how loud wind turbines actually are.
Onshore wind turbines are often criticised for their visual impact, ruining what previously have been areas of natural beauty. They are typically spread out over larger areas than other energy producing installations, and therefore have a larger impact on the local environment.
They don’t produce electricity 24/7
The other major issue with any type of wind turbine is that it produces electricity intermittently. This wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if we could store the electricity produced when demand is very low, but energy storage is currently very inefficient, expensive and unproven.
The Future for Wind Turbines
If the cost of manufacturing wind turbines falls, then very quickly the cost per kWh of electricity produced from wind will reach parity with electricity made from burning fossil fuels.
Potentially, as the wind industry continues to grow, economies of scale can be introduced (ability to make something cheaper, the more you make of it) and the technology will become more efficient (for example, nanotechnology allowing the blades to capture more of the kinetic energy in the wind) so the price to produce the electricity from wind turbines will continue to fall.
There are initiative solutions to make renewables produce power 24/7 currently in development. The Crescent Dunes Solar power plant takes advantage of molten salt technology to keep electricity flowing while the sun doesn’t shine.
In theory, Wind Turbines could be coupled with pumped storage such as the Dinorwig power station in Wales, but even that storage mechanism is limited, and requires a lot more energy to create the electrical potential energy, than can be used for useful work.
Have a look at our energy storage section to see other potential solutions that make make 24/7 production viable.
The last point here, and the one that I think is most important, is that as people begin to grow up with wind turbines around them, they will become the norm and therefore more accepted. Currently many of the people complaining about them have seen these things installed in the last 5 years or so, so knew what the land was like before they were there.
Children growing up now will know no different, the wind turbines will simply be ‘part of the furniture’ and therefore they will recognise them as what they are, simply smaller scale energy power plants.
According to RenewableUK, there are now 370 wind farms in the UK, providing just under 20,000,000,000 KWh of electricity to the grid each year. Based on an average house using 4,500 of electricity per year, 20 billion KWhs is enough to power approximately 4.5 million homes. It is thought that the Government are keen to increase the installed capacity considerably over the next 2 decades, which is exemplified by the fact that in 2012, installed capacity leapt by 30% from 2011 levels.
Wind power cost per MWh
Despite producing 100% renewable, clean energy and currently having a substantial presence in the UK energy mix, wind turbines still seem to get quite a lot of bad press. The onshore wind farms in the UK get a hard time because people feel they ruin the aesthetic beauty of our ‘green and pleasant lands’. Wind turbines in the sea might seem a better idea then, since wind speed is higher and more consistent out at sea, but they get a bad rap because they are considerably more expensive than the land based wind farms. From a price point of view they are actually almost double in cost – electricity from onshore wind turbines costs about £90 / MWh, while electricity from offshore wind turbines costs about £160 / MWh (according to Imperial College London).
A new installation method devised by the clever folks at Universal Foundation may help to dramatically decrease the installation cost of wind farms out at sea.
Current wind power installation methods
There are currently 4 methods of installing wind turbines out at sea, which are described briefly below.
Monopiles – consist of a large steel rod, which is embedded into the sea floor, with a hydraulic hammer, often with the length above and below the seabed, roughly the same, to provide the stability for the wind turbine to sit on top of it. This is much like hammering a pole into the ground with a sledgehammer. The majority of offshore wind turbines are held in place in this manner, and this method of installing the turbines is currently the cheapest and easiest.
Gravity Based Structures – Rather than inserting these structures into the seabed like monopoles, these simply sit on top of it. The GBS are filled with concrete, sand or metal, to anchor them in position.
Space Frame Structures – Like monopiles these are embedded into the ground, but consist of multiple thinner tubes (normally arranged in a tripod layout), providing a much stronger structure. As such the space frame structures work well with wind turbines that sit in deeper waters.
Floating Structures – These are still in the design phase, but do very much what they say on the tin. They float within the water, allowing you to situate them in water of any depth, although the focus of research is trying to make them stable in this deeper water.
New wind power innovation
The new design uses suction bucket technology. It is essentially an upside down steel bucket (with a diameter of 16m), which is inserted into the seabed. A suction pump is then turned on, which sucks the water out of the bucket that causes it to sink easily into the sea floor. Once the bucket is fully inserted into the ground, the pump is turned off, and the bucket is stuck fast into position, allowing the wind turbine to be attached to it above the surface.
So what makes the new wind power design so special?
Well firstly, a lot less iron needs to be used, because a hollow bucket is used instead of a large solid rod (in the case of the monopile). In addition, no expensive, loud hydraulic hammers are needed to drive it in position, the suction bucket should nestle into position very easily (using the suction pump and simple gravity) providing an incredibly stable footing. The suction bucket also can be installed much quicker than existing technologies.
These benefits will all act to drive down the cost of offshore wind turbines to bring them more in line with the onshore turbines. Since an estimated £90bn (according to the Carbon Trust) will be spent on these turbines in the next 20 years, this technology could ensure we get much more turbine for our buck!
The technology is being tested in the North Sea over the next few days, so here’s hoping a simple idea has the potential to revolutionise the offshore wind turbine industry!
After the closure of the Feed in Tariff (FiT), the government introduced The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) which launched in 2020. The scheme allows growth in electricity generation from green microgeneration technologies.
How does the Smart Export Guarantee work?
Licensed electricity suppliers can offer a tariff and make payment to small-scale low-carbon generators for electricity exported to the National Grid (considering certain criteria are met).
The following low-carbon, renewable technologies are eligible for the SEG:
solar panels (solar pv)
micro combined heat and power
If you decide install any of the above renewable generation for the home, you should be eligible for the SEG tariff, providing you meet certain criteria.
Your installation must be 5MW capacity or less (50kW for micro-CHP).
You need to take electricity readings from your meter – this is going to be easier if you have a smart meter installed, which will automatically take the readings for you.
Your installation must be MCS-certified.
Savings on electricity bills
Every kWh of electricity that you create yourself and then use in your home means that you don’t need to buy that unit from the electricity company. Electricity is currently priced at about 15 pence/kWh when you buy it from any of the big six energy companies, so the more electricity you produce and use in your home, the more you save.
Smart Export Guarantee registration
In practice in the UK, the energy companies with over 150,000 customers (British Gas, EoN, SSE, Scottish Power, EDF and NPower, etc) are required by law to provide the SEG to homes and businesses. Other smaller electricity suppliers may not offer the SEG as it is not compulsory for them to do so. The full list of registered SEG licensed suppliers is available on the OFGEM website here.
Once you have the product installed through the MCS, you should receive a certificate confirming MCS compliance. Speak to your energy company that is approved for the SEG – express your interest in receiving the SEG. Your supplier will confirm your eligibility, cross checking your details to the MCS database. On confirmation of the SEG your details will also be added to the OFGEM Central SEG Register.
You may also need to agree a process for meter reading and whether you want to opt out from export tariffs. An important point to note is that it is far more economical to use as much of the electricity you produce in the home as you can, rather than selling it back to the grid. Using a kWh of the electricity you produce in your home saves you buying it from the energy suppliers at 15p, while you can only sell it back to the grid for 4.77p.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.