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The Latest Fashion from London: Domestic Wind Turbines

Alana Herro writes for Eye on Earth (e²), a service of World Watch Magazine in partnership with the blue moon fund. e² provides a unique perspective on current events, newly released studies, and important global trends.

Domestic wind turbines are gaining in popularity in Britain, where some 80,000 homes now use small renewable power generation units to provide energy for residents, reports a recent Reuters article. Donnachadh McCarthy, who last November earned distinction as the first Londoner permitted to put a wind turbine on his house, is using the unit and other renewable energy devices to feed surplus power back to the grid. “I have exported 20 percent more electricity than I’ve imported this year,? he boasts, noting that his carbon footprint is less than half a ton, far below the European Union average of 8.5 metric tons.

A promise earlier this year by David Cameron, leader of the UK’s opposition Conservative Party, to install a wind turbine and solar panel on his home led to dramatically increased sales of “microgeneration? products—especially wind turbines—nationwide, the article notes. Mainstream retailers, such as B&Q, a chain of hardware stores run by Kingfisher Plc., sell domestic turbines for around 1,500 British pounds (US$2,800). But the number of smaller producers is growing as well. Futurenergy, for example, sells about 100 of its £695 ($1,200) turbines each week to customers around the world, according to company director Peter Osborne.

Domestic wind turbines could supply some 4 percent of Britain’s electricity needs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent, reports the Energy Saving Trust, a non-profit organization funded by the government and private sector to promote sustainable energy use and cut carbon dioxide emissions. The group predicts that overall, renewable power could supply more than one-third of Britain’s energy needs in just a few decades.

London wind pioneer McCarthy warns that switching to renewables alone will not solve the UK’s energy problems, however. “This is about a range of things that come together,? he explains. “This is 40 percent lifestyle, 40 percent efficiency—and renewables can only help with the rest. When you see how much some people waste, you need to tell

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Comments

Nice site redesign, but the bottom of this article has been cut off. For me at least it ends with the phrase "you need to tell".

Regarding the article, we need a little JAVA tool that combines a wind map (say, of North America) with the local costs of turbines to see in what areas they're cost effective--because for a lot of households, they'll only supplement your power by 5% or so. Also, local laws prevent their use in many municipalities. Right now, I have to dig around in many different places to aggregate all this info.

Naturally, it's easier to suggest this than do it myself; nothing quite like being an armchair general.


Posted by: Karl Schroeder on 27 Oct 06

This article from the Guardian newspaper might be interesting:

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/energy/story/0,,1931755,00.html

Pointing out that turbines attached to houses are rather new and untested technologies. It has raised some concerns in our household. We are about to buy a house (a 1930's build, in London) and I know that it needs work sometime in the next couple of years on the roof. Will putting a turbine up there cause even more damage?

What is more likely though is that we will pay more and get a new roof, with solar panels / heating and maybe a nicely reinforced point for the turbine.

But before that we intend to fully insulate the building, get energy efficient lights in place and make sure all devices except the houses central server are switched off.

Now all I want are some electricity usage monitors that can report the usage across the house in a nice webpage :)


Posted by: mark simpkins on 27 Oct 06

Mark, in regard to the Java Map. Thats not what you would want, but rather a GIS map, Geographic Information System, in which you could combine cost, availability, efficiency (based on average wind speed) and even difficulty in securing the zoning rights to do so


Posted by: Martin Walsh on 27 Oct 06

The problem with the B&Q wind turbine is that the economics are far from favourable for most households (especially those in built-up areas). Investing in one would be an optimistic punt on a) price of heating over next 10 years and b) effect on your house price when you move of having said gadget. See this thread for a discussion of the issues:
http://www.itsnoteasybeinggreen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2668


Posted by: John Kazer on 30 Oct 06

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http://www.fashionbags.de


Posted by: jameshkoler on 9 Nov 06



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