Wind power is really taking off, if you’ll pardon the pun. In 2012, the use of wind power increased by 18%, and global investment in this particular source of energy was around $80.3 billion. The United States was the world leader in the wind market, increasing their capacity by 13.1 GW. Europe, meanwhile, installed 11 GW to extend their total capacity to 106 GW. Within the EU, Spain and Germany are the biggest users and generators of wind energy.
Closer to home, a number of large scale wind farm projects are in the works. South Africa’s first large-scale high-resolution Wind Resource Map has been launched, which will aid both the government and developers in making the most of our wind resources. Meanwhile, wind turbines are currently being transported to the site of a future wind farm in Jefferies Bay. South Africa has also signed a deal with Vestas for 3 wind turbine plants, set to be installed in the Eastern Cape next year. In Port Elizabeth, the Red Cap Kouga wind farm will have 32 turbines generating 80 MW in 2014.
But what about making use of wind power on a smaller scale? There are a number of things you need to consider if you’re thinking of installing a turbine on your roof or in your garden.
• Wind Consistency: Turbines will only begin to generate electricity when the wind blows at a constant speed in one direction. If you live in an area that has temperamental gusts of wind, for example, then wind power may not be the best option for you.
• Lay of the Land: Tall buildings, hills and trees can all disrupt the flow and constancy of the wind. This consequently interrupts electricity generation via the turbines. The best places to install wind turbines are on a stretch of flat land. (Or in the sea, but that’s not really an option for domestic land dwellers!)
• Cost: The costs associated with installing wind turbines can be slightly higher than the amount required for solar power. Of course, in the long run, initial investments do pay off.
• Birds: Sometimes birds have been known to fly into the turbines and encounter a rather swift end. The logical response is to ensure that turbines are not installed in areas where there are endangered species of our flying friends.
• Neighbours: Whilst wind turbines for domestic use are much smaller than their wind-farm counterparts, at around 5m, they can still cause an obstruction of view for you and your neighbours. You’ll need to check with your neighbours before you go ahead and install anything. Of course, you could also collaborate, and split the costs of a turbine(s) in exchange for sharing the power that is generated.
• Noise: Wind turbines can be rather noisy. They can also vibrate rather loudly, which can be a problem if you’re trying to sleep or concentrate. This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t install a turbine on your roof.
Wind power can be a great solution for saving energy when used in conjunction with solar power. In this manner, when the wind drops, you still have access to the clean energy generated by solar panels. Wind power is an effective backup, and when conditions are prime, the wind power can be used whilst the solar energy is stored.
Sustainable, clean, free and renewable – what’s not to love? Here at Sustainable.co.za, we have a great range of domestic wind turbines and associated products to help you reduce your electricity bills and green-up your life.