Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to use it to generate electricity. The UK has one of the best wind resources in Europe, making it an ideal place to construct a community owned wind turbine.
Almost all UK wind turbines now installed receive income from the feed-in tariff, with a price being paid for each kWh of electricity generated by the turbine. There are additional payments for electricity exported on to the grid. For larger turbines, power purchase agreements can provide additional income in addition to savings from offset electricity bills.
Wind turbines range in size from small 5-10kW models, up to multi-MW large scale installations. All wind turbines must be accredited under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
What are the benefits?
There are a wide range of benefits to using a wind turbine in your community, these include -
- Wind turbines are a mature technology with tens of thousands of successful installations operating across the country.
- Well sited turbines can generate large amounts of low carbon energy and used to offset utility bills.
- The feed-in tariff can provide substantial, predictable, long-term income which can be reinvested into the community.
There are six important points to consider when developing a community owned wind turbine -
- Wind Resource - correct wind turbine location is essential for project viability and a major part of this is local wind-speed. See references below for tools available online.
- Planning constraints - planning authorities often publish guidance to assist with the development of wind turbines. For more information see the planning module.
- Grid connection - a strong grid connection is required for all wind projects and is critical to the success of a project. Guidance on how to secure access is available in the grid connection module.
- Lease agreement - developing a wind project will require a lease for the lifetime of the project. The securing your site module provides guidance on how to identify landowners and negotiate the terms of lease.
- Radar interference - wind turbines can potentially interfere with aviation radar. Renewable UK provides guidance on how to check that a proposed site will not be rejected at planning stage.
- Access to site - wind turbines often have large pre-assembled sections that must be transported to a site. Careful consideration must be given as to how the parts will be delivered as wind turbine sites are often in remote locations where the necessary infrastructure might not be in place.
The UK Government have provided guidance on community benefits and engagement for onshore wind farm developers, communities living in the locality of a wind farm and local authorities.
The Community Benefits Register provides a means for developers and communities to record the range of community benefits offered and received from onshore wind projects in a transparent manner. This can help communities in engaging and negotiating benefits packages best suited to their needs.
Friends of the Earth have information on climate change, energy saving and wind technologies. They can also assist with finding local community groups.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy have produced a guide providing evidence-based analysis relating to wind turbines. Drawing on peer-reviewed academic research and publicly funded studies it addresses issues such as bird-strike, shadow flicker, noise, impact on property prices and 'wind turbine syndrome'.