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The University of Southampton

Southampton scientists outline UK's best locations for domestic wind turbines

Published: 15 July 2009

Scientists from the University of Southampton have produced the most comprehensive report of its kind to identify the UK’s best locations for households to install micro-wind turbines.

The study, funded by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), said some households could generate in excess of £2,800 worth of electricity a year. However, it also concluded that other locations would actually lose money if a small-scale turbine was installed.

The year-long study, which was conducted by the Sustainable Energy Research Group in the University’s School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, involved 57 locations, ranging from south-west England to the Orkney Islands, and tested a range of turbines that fell within two categories: building-mounted (typically 1 kWp) and free standing pole-mounted (2.5-6 kWp). The results show that the performance of domestic wind small-scale turbines is highly dependent upon location and proper installation of the technology.

Dr Patrick James, who led the study, comments: “Based on the study and with current technology, it is estimated that around 450,000 UK householders would benefit from installing a domestic small-scale wind turbine with the optimal geographic areas being rural locations in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. This represents a UK potential energy generation (100 per cent uptake from all sites) of 3,250GWh from domestic small-scale wind turbines; equivalent to the amount of electricity required to power 825,000 households per year. Pole-mounted wind turbines located in the most open rural parts of Scotland proved to deliver the greatest results, saving in excess of £2,000 and 7,500kg of carbon dioxide annually.

“The results show that no urban or suburban sites with a building-mounted turbine generated more than 200kWh (or £26 of electricity) per annum, but the best performing building-mounted turbine, located in a rural area of Scotland, generated nearly 1,000kWh (or £127 of electricity) per annum. Larger free-standing pole-mounted turbines, sited in rural locations, could generate in excess of 18,000 kWh (or £2,300) per annum.”

The study was undertaken as a partnership between the University of Southampton, the Energy Saving Trust, B&Q plc; E.ON UK; Centrica plc; ScottishPower; Scottish and Southern Energy; EDF Energy; NIE Energy; RWE npower; The Scottish Government; and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

If you would like to know whether wind turbine technology is suitable for where you live, please visit call the EST advice line on 0800 512 012 or go online:

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