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Wind energy technology
Wind power is the most successful and fastest spreading renewable energy technology in the UK with a number of individual and group installations of varying size, capacity and location. Traditionally, turbines are installed in non-urban areas with a strong trend for large offshore wind farms. In parallel with the design and development of ever-bigger machines, which are deemed to be more efficient and cost-effective, it is being increasingly recognized that smaller devices installed at the point of use, i.e. urban settings, can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions if they become mainstream.|
At present there is a wide range of available wind products, many manufactured in the UK and EU with proven good performance and durability. The dominant type is horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT), which are typically ground mounted. Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) have limited market presence and there is a trade-off between lower efficiency and potentially higher resistance to extreme conditions. Capacity ranges from 1 kW and below 500kW are likely to be considered.
Wind technology is also currently one of the most cost-effective renewable energy technologies, which is attributable to the large scale of installations reducing output cost. Individual building although smaller, have the advantage of feeding electricity directly into the building’s electricity circuit, thus sparing costly distribution network development and avoiding distribution losses. The downside is the still high capital cost per kW installed for smaller turbines, plus location constraints, such as visual intrusion and noise. The wind regime in urban areas is also a concern owing to higher wind turbulence which reduces the potential electricity output.
In most cases, wind turbines are connected to the electricity grid and all generated energy is used regardless of the building demand fluctuations. The output largely depends on the wind speed and the correlation between the two is a cube function. This means that in short periods of above-average wind speeds the generation increases exponentially. As a result, it is difficult to make precise calculations of the annual output of a turbine, but average figures can provide useful guidance to designers and architects. In reasonably windy areas (average wind speed of 6m/s) the expected output from 1 kW installed is about 2500kWh annually.
The cost per kW installed varies considerably by manufacturer and size of machine with an indicative bracket of £2,500—£5,000. With a lifespan of more than 20 years, wind turbines can save money if design and planning are carried out in a robust way.
Building-integrated wind turbines are starting to be a reality in the UK, but potential projects may face difficulties with obtaining planning permission. There are a few examples now of permitted development rights for certain rooftop turbines in some local councils. A number of horizontal axis devices specifically designed for building integration are now available commercially, having design and reliability parameters relevant to the urban context. Building-mounted vertical axis devices are under development.
At present, turbines installed near buildings, as well as community installations for groups of buildings, should be regarded as the larger wind energy source related to buildings, when they contribute to the carbon emissions from these premises using ‘private wire’ networks.
Installing a wind turbine requires planning permission. The main considerations that are taken into account by the planning authorities are the visual impact and health and safety issues, such as noise and vibration. Wind turbines are not likely to be permitted on protected area sites and in conservation areas.
Wind turbines are highly engineered products which require specialist installation, commissioning and maintenance. It is the supplier who carries out these tasks in order to ensure good functioning and connection of the machines and to issue a warranty. This applies to all sizes of turbines.
Specific installation guidance is typically available from manufacturers for each product. For turbines of up to 15-20kW capacity, standard delivery, assembly and erection procedures are listed and apply. For ground-mounted turbines in this range, foundation parameters, minimum installation working area and minimum distances to buildings and structures are specified.
Assembly sequence and necessary equipment should be worked out in advance and supplied by the installer.
Installing a wind turbine also involves connection to the electricity grid. Permission from the local electricity supplier is necessary as well as an up-front agreement for power purchase.
Maintenance of horizontal axis wind turbines is usually on an annual basis and requires lowering of the generator to the ground. This is performed by a qualified professional. Health and safety requirements must be observed. For larger machines, maintenance is typically carried out on the tower itself by an expert. Vertical axis turbines entail less maintenance effort as the generator is located at the foot of the turbine tower. Specialist service, however, is required.
Once installed and connected to the grid there is very little the user needs to worry about regarding a wind turbine.
Most turbines operate continuously in year, and generation and supply of electricity is fully automatic. Users have access to the metering devices showing output and export levels, for which guidance is available from the turbine installers.
Future BY Energy
Future BY Energy Ltd is a professional energy assessor company with a rich understanding of the UK energy market. We offer independent professional expertise in mechanical engineering for all domestic and commercial buildings and strategic energy advice. As expert designers and specifiers of heating-cooling systems, we pride ourselves in finding affordable energy efficient solutions for new and existing buildings. We have top level experience in a wide range of building types in both commercial and domestic sectors.
As registered energy assessors we provide:
• Domestic Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
• SAP calculation and predicted energy assessment for new built dwellings (EPC-SAP/PartL)
• SBEM calculation for Commercial buildings (SBEM/Part L)
• Commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
• Display Energy Certificates for Public buildings (DEC)
• Air Conditioning Inspections (TM44)
• Asbestos surveys and consultancy
• Air permeability-Leakage test
• Sound test and acoustic consultancy
Please do not hesitate to contact, Behdad Yazdani, on 02081440820, who will be pleased to advise you.