New miniature wind turbines help counter rising costs of gas and electricity

Mini turbines are the first of their kind in the World

House-holders in Wales are being offered miniature wind turbines to help counter the rising cost of gas and electricity. The device, with rotor blades of 7ft diameter, could reduce domestic electricity bills by almost a third, according to energy company Swalec.
The firm believes the mini turbines are the first of their kind in the world and says they could become as commonplace on house walls as satellite television dishes are today.
But Swalec admits it would take several years for home owners to recoup their outlay, even after allowing for grants for energy-saving house improvements.

Swalec spokesman Denis Kerby said the concept could ultimately reduce income to Swalec from electricity and gas bills. "That's a small price to pay for increasing the UK's renewable-energy potential," he said. Swalec is part of the Scottish and Southern Energy group of companies, which already owns most of Scotland's hydro-electricity plants. It launched the mini wind turbine in Scotland last month, installing two on a filling station near Edinburgh airport. Before installing a turbine, a structural survey is made of each property along with an assessment of whether the location is windy enough to make the project worthwhile. Mr Kerby said most places in Wales would have enough wind, and the main exceptions would be properties sheltered by office blocks or other tall buildings.

A mini turbine will not totally replace the traditional electricity supply, however, as it will not produce power on calm days and its output can't be stored, other than by limited means such as storage heaters. Mr Kerby said the machines involved simple mechanical parts and would last 30 years or more with regular maintenance. He said the turbines would not cause noise nuisance. "They're almost silent. There's a slight whirr as they go around. Wind chimes are noisier." Buying and installing a mini turbine would cost about £8,000, depending on the installation's complexity, but grants are available which would reduce the cost to the householder to £5,000 or less. Swalec estimates that a typical household would save about £300 a year with a wind turbine. That implies it would take about 17 years to recover the outlay.
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
UK, Wales, wind turbine, wind energy, wind farm, wind power, onshore, offshore

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