Feeds

Home turbines can't light a candle

A puny wind

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Domestic "microwind" turbines, recently championed as "power from the people" by opposition leader David Cameron, are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

A study of domestic turbines was published by renewable energy consultants Encraft in December. According to the study, only one of the 15 household wind turbines generated enough to power a 75W light bulb. The average daily output was 393.3 Watt hours: an average of 17W.

In all, only three of the turbines generated over 400 Watt hours of electricity, with one generating 1,790 Watt hours.

Four of the turbines didn't even make it into three figures. By way of comparison, a washing machine consumes 4kW (4,000W), and a fridge-freezer 1.9kW. [PDF,1MB]

The average turbine also operates at only 1.84 per cent of capacity.

The carbon-obsessed BBC has suggested that a domestic turbine may contribute about "a fifth" of a household's electricity needs - but the reality is this is only true if the household's only electricity need is one fifth of a single crack-den-dim light bulb.

The numbers suggests that the turbines would take, at best, 15 years to pay for themselves.

So what's gone wrong?

Mind the bats

Encraft stresses it's early days, which is true - the first 13 sites only went live last January, with 13 more following in October.

However, it appears that the measured windspeed for many sites fell below the predicted figure. Turbulence in built-up areas makes for poor windflow. Or as SK Watson, of the Centre for Renewable Energy System Technology at Loughborough University, observes:

"Those areas with higher capacity factor are where urban areas tend not to be!"

Rural vs Urban wind speeds

Windspeeds in rural vs urban areas

Worse, the measured energy output from the domestic turbines was far below the "theoretical" energy predicted.

Er, quite.

The trial has suffered other problems. One turbine was stolen, another damaged, and a further one was beseiged by pro-bat protestors. Several needed their inverters replacing.

"We have had some reality checks," Encraft admits.

However, Encraft MD Matthew Rhodes, quoted in The Guardian found one "benefit" from the white elephants. Apparently, seven out of ten people who see a turbine say it reminds them to save energy.

The logic is, apparently, that when one sees one of these monuments to self-righteousness, one dashes back to turn the lights off.

But surely there must be cheaper ways of inducing feelings of guilt and low self-worth in the general population - such as availing oneself of the latest Radiohead album, perhaps? ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.