Wind turbines do not have to be enormous like those found on windy hilltops and on cliffs beside the sea. In recent years mini wind turbines have become more and more popular sitting atop a 5+ meter pole at the bottom of the garden or near to farm houses and barns and generating a couple of kW of electricity power. These are most common where the national grid electricity does not reach (off grid, and so it is necessary for a building to be energy self-sufficient. The generated power is stored in battery banks, passed through inverters to make 240AC electricity, and used.
Mini wind turbine generators are not practical in built up areas because of the noise they generate, the lower average wind speed, and the fact that they are often perceived to be an eyesore. More recently however so called Micro Wind Turbines (used for decades on sailing boats) have started springing up across Urban Great Britain. These are designed to supplement national grid electricity and therefore reduce the overall electricy bill for their owners. Electricity generation is limited to just a few hundred watts at best which is enough to power energy efficient light bulbs throughout a typical home on a windy day.
Advances in engineering have resulted in much quieter wind turbines with greatly reduced vibration. These are designed to be fitted on roof tops and on the gable ends of properties where they cause no greater eye-sore (for those who are not fascinated by wind turbines) than a standard satellite dish or television aerial. Whether these new micro wind turbines are quiet enough for neighbours not to complain when the wind is gusting, whether you would want to live in a house with a vibrating wall, and whether it is environmentally beneficial to cover homes in small wind turbines generating small amount of electricity when one large turbine can power a whole town is a matter for discussion. But, there is no doubt that micro-wind turbines are here to stay, and at around £1,000 for a fully fitted small system (after grants) they will be an attractive to many people.
Micro Wind Turbines
Windsave 1000 is available from around £1,500 fully installed from B and Q. It promises to save the typical homeowner 30% of their electricity bill each year. It plugs straight into any 13A plug socket in the property and will power any electric device on the same ring main.
D400 StealthGen is a cheaper lower powered micro-wind turbine which can be used to charge a battery bank with electricity. Installed turbine costs are around £800 plus you must factor in the cost of a power inverter (to convert 12V or 24V DC into 240AC for use in the home ) and a suitable bank of batteries. This is the wind turbine Conservative Party leader David Cameron (and future Prime Minister) planned to install on his house.