How it works
A wind turbine is a tower with rotor blades that are turned by the wind to produce electricity. The more wind, the more energy is produced.
Compared to energy produced by fossil fuels, wind energy is 100% renewable. This means:
- no harmful byproducts
- fewer or no carbon emissions
Types of wind turbines
There are 2 types of wind turbine for domestic or business use:
- free-standing (also known as ‘pole-mounted’)
Pole-mounted wind turbines tend to be larger and more suitable for exposed rural locations. A large pole-mounted turbine can reach over 75 metres in height and generate anywhere up to 100 kW (kilowatts).
Roof-mounted turbines are much smaller and can be installed on buildings in urban areas. They typically generate between 0.5 and 2.5 kW.
A wind turbine can cost anywhere between £1,500 and £6,000 per kW (kilowatt), depending on the type of system. Roof-mounted turbines are much cheaper to install than pole-mounted ones, but produce less energy.
- a 1 kW roof-mounted system generating 1,750 kWh (kilowatt hours) per year will cost around £1,500
- a 1.5 kW pole-mounted system generating 2,600 kWh per year will cost around £7,000
- a 6 kW pole-mounted system generating around 9,000 kWh per year will cost £23,000 to £34,000
These calculations are based on average UK wind speed conditions of 5.6 metres per second (m/s).
Maintenance and running costs
Wind turbines currently have an average life of around 25 years. You will need to carry out a maintenance check every few years. This can cost between £100 and £200.
You will need to replace the inverter at some point during its lifetime. This can cost anywhere from £1,000 to £2,000 for a larger system.
If you wish to store energy, you will need batteries. These should be replaced every 6 to 10 years. The cost of replacing batteries varies depending on the design and scale of the system.
Is a wind turbine right for your business?
Factors to consider:
- business size – how much power you need
- location – how much wind there is in your area
- planning permission – will you need it
Check wind speed in your area
For a wind turbine to work properly, you will need an average wind speed of at least 5m/s. The surrounding area should be free from obstacles such as trees or tall buildings.
To find out about wind speeds in your area, enter your postcode in the Energy Saving Trust’s wind speed predictor. For more accurate readings you could install a wind gauge on your premises.
Most wind turbines are permitted without planning permission, so long as:
- they are not on safeguarded land
- no heat pump has already been installed at the property
- installation complies with Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) or equivalent
In Scotland planning permission is required for a roof mounted turbine.
- lower energy costs
- less reliance on fossil fuels
- increased consumer and investor confidence in your brand
- being more attractive to buyers as they seek a greener supply chain
- preparation for future laws and regulations
- potential to gain income by selling energy back to the National Grid
Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
Any electricity you don’t use can be sold to the National Grid through your energy supplier.
Each energy supplier will offer a different rate (tariff). The minimum rate a supplier can lawfully offer is £0.001p per kW produced. Most suppliers offer around 3-6p per kW produced.
Find out if you are eligible and how to apply for a licence at Ofgem’s website.
Across the UK local funding is available for businesses looking to install energy efficiency measures. Find out which areas are covered and how much you can get.
You can receive a discount on CCL (Climate Change Levy) taxes paid to your energy supplier by signing a Climate Change Agreement (CCA).
This is a voluntary agreement with the Environment Agency to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. Find out who is eligible and how to apply.
Renewable technology has a rateable value. This means Installing a wind turbine can affect your business rates. Find out how at GOV.UK.
Other forms of renewable energy
As an alternative or addition to using a wind turbine you could get:
If you need help designing an energy system which is right for your business, contact one of these certified installers.
If you can’t produce your own energy, you can switch over to a ‘green’ energy tariff with your energy supplier.
What’s coming next
Wind power technology is evolving. A new form of wind turbine called a Powerpod is currently being developed which will arrive on the market in coming years.
Designed for urban locations, each 1kW pod will be able to create up to 3 times more power than a traditional mounted wind turbine.