Wind energy could have the potential to power your whole business, significantly reducing your carbon footprint – and your business electricity bill. Providing the location of your business is suitable, you could generate an enormous amount of energy with a commercial wind turbine. It will depend on the size of your business, as well as the size and quantity of turbines. Read our useful guide to find out more about how commercial wind turbines work and whether wind energy is suitable for your business.
How does wind energy work?
Wind turbines capture the kinetic energy created by wind to generate electricity. This is green energy as the electricity has been created in a much cleaner and safer way than creating energy with fossil fuels. When the wind blows it forces the blades of a wind turbine round, driving a turbine that creates the electricity. The stronger the wind, the faster the blades will rotate, and the more electricity will be produced.
Design and placement of wind turbines is important so that the maximum amount of electricity is generated. Wind direction will determine the design of a wind turbine, for example, whether it is an upwind or downwind turbine. Wind speed can also affect the function of a wind turbine. If it’s too slow the blades won’t rotate fast enough to generate electricity, if it’s too fast (around 55mph) the turbines will stop working to avoid damage.
There are two types of wind turbines that are suitable for commercial use – pole mounted and building mounted. Pole mounted turbines are free standing and have a typical power rating of 6kW. Building mounted turbines are smaller and can be installed on the roof of a building. You can get larger pole mounted turbines that would be suitable for a large business, with a power rating up to 20kW.
Different types of wind turbine
There are various types of wind energy that can be installed, depending mostly on the location and the energy usage required:
- Offshore turbines
These are turbines built at sea. They are the most consistent and powerful turbines as there is almost always wind offshore, due to tidal breeze.
- Onshore turbines
These are turbines built on land, often in unpopulated areas with no conservation value. They can be hard to get planning permission for as they are loud and people consider them an eye sore.
- Horizontal Access Wind Turbines
These are the most common type of wind turbine that you see around the UK. They also include types of turbine such as shrouded, upwind and downwind turbines. Shrouded turbines are also known as Diffuser-Augmented Wind Turbines, and can be identified as their blades are in a ring shape.
Wind turbines are also manufactured for specific wind classes as wind speeds will vary from site to site. Wind classes are as follows:
- Class 1 – these turbines are for the windiest sites which have average wind speeds above 8.5m/s. They will typically have smaller rotors and towers so that they can withstand higher wind speeds.
- Class 2 – turbines for wind speeds up to 8.5m/s. They are the most common class of wind turbine as they can cope with varying wind speeds, whilst still maximising energy generation.
- Class 3 – turbines for slower wind speed sites, with average wind speeds up to 7.5m/s. They tend to have longer blades so that they can maximise energy generation from slow wind speeds.
Wind energy for businesses
Businesses in rural areas that have good wind are suitable for wind energy. It is possible to install a wind turbine in urban areas, but it will likely be far harder to obtain planning permission, especially if you’re considering a large turbine.
One turbine is currently permitted under current planning law but it can’t stand taller than 11.1m. If you are in a conservation area you will have to get planning permission no matter what. Electricity generated can be fed directly into your business and any excess energy can be stored in batteries or sold to the National Grid.
The cost of a wind energy system will depend on a number of factors, especially the size and mounting method of the turbine. A 6kW pole-mounted system would have an estimated installation cost of around £30,000, but once installed you wouldn’t have to worry about spending money on electricity. You may also be able to claim Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) payments for surplus energy generated.
Turbines do require maintenance every few years, and the cost of maintenance will again depend on the size and type of the turbine. A well-maintained turbine should last more than 20 years.
What are the benefits of wind turbines?
There are multiple advantages of wind energy and there can be great benefits for businesses:
- Reducing your carbon footprint
Wind is a renewable green energy source that will never run out. A well-maintained wind turbine will provide your business with clean, sustainable energy for around 25 years.
- Advancing technology
With the demand for more sustainable methods of generating energy, wind energy technology has enormous potential to get more efficient. Prices of turbines are even expected to fall by 2025 as more energy providers turn to renewable energy sources.
- Reduce your electricity bills
Although the installation cost of wind turbines can be high, it completely removes the need to pay for any electricity. You can even store the energy for the future, or sell energy back to the National Grid.