Introduction to Wind Power

Wind Power

Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to generate electricity.

Wind turbines convert the wind energy into an electrical output which can be used in a property after passing through a suitable inverter unit. Care must be taken in installing these systems to ensure the property can bear the loads generated by moving turbine blades.

Obstructions such as trees and buildings will reduce the efficiency of a wind turbine. The maximum output from wind energy systems is in the winter, which coincides with the maximum power usage in a property, but there can be prolonged periods of winter calms when there is insufficient wind to generate power.

Wind speed is not uniform across the country so not every region in the country can gain maximum benefits.

Wind Power Rules of Thumb

The capacity factor, the typical generated power over the course of a year, is about 24% of the theoretical maximum output for onshore and 41% offshore.

The average size onshore turbine powers around 1,500 homes with 50 metre blades generating 2.5-3MW.

The average wind speed on a site should be at 5 metres per second (11mph) for wind power to be viable. Higher average wind speeds are desirable as the energy available is proportional to the cube of the wind speed.

Obstructions from buildings and trees reduce wind speeds and cause turbulence. Locate a turbine in a clear space at a distance of at least 10 times the height of any obstacle.

A viable 2.5 kW wind turbine installation should generate the equivalent to an average household´s electricity consumption (4,000kWh pa), yet peak power demand can exceed 10kW in many dwellings.

Wind Power Example

A 6kW turbine on a 12m pole-mounted system will cost around £23,000 and generate 6,000 to 10,000kWh per annum dependent on average wind speed. These have a rotor diameter of 5-6m.


UK Wind Energy Database UKWED
NOBAL Wind Map for UK wind data
European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) Wind Energy Basics
Wikipedia article on wind turbines
Greenspec guide to small wind turbines

Wind Power - last updated 30th January, 2014 by Corny