Feeds

Home turbines can't light a candle

A puny wind

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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? ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.