5kw wind turbine

A 5KW wind turbine in an 6m/s average annual wind speed will generate around 11,000 units of electricity per year. The average household use is 8,000 units per year.

Wind turbines for electricity generation have both benefits and costs to our society.  The benefits include them being a ‘green’ source of renewable energy.  The costs include them being a hazard to birds, a source of visual and noise pollution for people close to them, and a point of dissension within communities.

Most of these costs relate to utility-scale turbines, say more than 500KW.  At this scale, another cost that needs to be factored in for large wind farms is the cost of transmitting the electricity generated to the National Grid.

Distributed small-scale wind turbines retain the same benefits as utility-scale wind farms but avoid many of the costs.

They are a lesser hazard for wild life and do not generate the community resistance that has been seen with larger wind farms.  And whilst the capital cost (in $/Watt) of small-scale turbines is greater than that of utility-scale turbines, when embedded in the local distribution network the smaller turbines avoid transmission line costs.  This means that the cost of the electricity generated per unit (cents/KWh) is not much greater than that for large scale turbines.

There are also other advantages to small scale wind turbines.  Being embedded in the local distribution network, means that the the reliability of electricity supply is improved and so rural communities become more resilient.  Farmers have the opportunity to generate electricity on their own farm which reduces their dependence on external suppliers and reduces their farm input costs.

So why is it that we do not see many small-scale wind turbines in our rural areas?

One reason is that until recently, wind turbines were not an attractive economic proposition.  Falling turbine prices, particularly those out of China, are changing this factor.

Another reason is that it is not so easy for a farmer to say ‘yes’ to investing in a wind turbine on their property.

The smallWind project aims to address each of these issues.

Over two years, the smallWind project aims to install four turbines of varying capacities, on farms with varying demand profiles.  By determining the relationship between turbine size, demand and wind conditions, we aim to prove the economics of small-scale wind turbines for renewable electricity generation.

The project is also aimed at removing the barriers that farmers face in deciding to install a renewable electricity generator.  Barriers like:

  • what is my wind resource?
  • what are the economics like?
  • what are the RMA implications?
  • how do I finance a turbine?
  • where do I source good turbines?
  • who will install them?
  • who will I sell my surplus generation to? and
  • how much will they pay me for it?
 Does this project interest you, either as a sponsor of it or as a wind turbine owner?  If so, please contact John by completing the Comment form below.  We are seeking funding and supporters to make the project a reality.