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Smaller wind turbines thrive in the shade of large-scale wind farms

The future is in renewables

Wind farms provide green energy, creating electricity from the limitless resource of wind. While large-scale wind turbines next to motorways or on the North Sea coast are loud and expensive, there are also smaller versions available for private use. These are a very appealing option for people who want to generate electricity independently of the major power corporations.


Prices for such smaller systems range from a few hundred euros to €10,000. They’re already popular particularly in the UK and Italy, while the industry is still very much in its early infancy in Germany . For this reason, it’s safe to assume that various laws and regulations will follow. Depending on the location (e.g. distance from neighbour’s property) and the size of the system (rotor diameter), you sometimes don’t even require planning permission. Depending on the size and wind speed, the many systems from various providers can deliver up to several thousand kilowatt hours – which equates to the energy consumption of a four-person household. But even the smallest systems can provide enough energy to power the basic systems, for instance on remote farms. If more electricity is produced than is required, the extra energy is fed into the grid, earning a bit of money for the household.


The manufacturers give each turbine a rated output, which is the output expected at a given wind speed. As wind speed varies, there can be times where no electricity is produced at all. At such points, the owner is once again dependent on energy providers. Due to the fact that the actual output varies dramatically throughout the course of the year, it’s impossible to draw a conclusion on annual output based on the rated output. As a rule of thumb, however, you can expect an annual yield of 1,000 kWh per kilowatt of rated output.

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A wind turbine converts the kinetic energy of the wind into electrical energy and feeds it into the grid. The kinetic energy of the wind forces the rotor blades and thus the rotor to turn. The rotor transmits the rotation energy to a generator, where it’s converted into electricity.


Wind turbines are now also an established concept within technical literature and are sometimes referred to under the more general terms of wind generator and wind charger. The term windmill is often incorrectly used to refer to a wind turbine.


Large-scale wind farms have made impressive progress over the past 20 years and already make an important contribution to the energy supply in many countries: around one-fifth of Denmark’s energy requirements were covered by wind power in 2008, while in Germany this figure was just under 8%. This means that a diverse market for smaller wind turbines is gradually emerging in the shade of large-scale wind farms.

There has been a German Federal Association of Small-Scale Wind Turbines since January 2009 and Europe’s first symposium for this sector of the green energy industry took place in March 2009. Although a whole host of companies are now working in this field, which has met with considerable interest from clients, there is still a lack of defined minimum standards in the industry, relevant legal framework conditions and special considerations for promoting green energy.

 

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