Micro-wind turbines in urban environments - an assessment (Downloadable version)
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R Phillips, P Blackmore, J Anderson, M Clift, A Aguilo-Rullan and S Pester
There is little experience of the operation of small wind turbines mounted on domestic buildings in urban environments and little data on their performance in terms of power generation, service life and maintenance.
This BRE Trust-finded study shows that, in addition to the initial embodied carbon and efficiency of the turbine, the payback period is highly sensitive to local wind conditions, transport costs, maintenance requirements and the life of the turbine. It reveals large variations in output of micro-wind turbines in a city such as Manchester and a windy location such as Wick in Scotland, and between the outskirts and town centres in windy locations.
In windy locations, micro-wind turbines can generate enough energy to pay back their carbon emissions within a few months or years but in large urban areas, micro-wind turbines may never pay back their carbon emissions. Life cycle costing suggests that, even in favourable urban locations, financial payback is unlikely for all but the most durable, efficient and low maintenance turbines.
This work confirms the need for a more rigorous method for estimating the electricity generated from building-mounted micro-wind turbines and for research and innovation in technology, planning and urban design to maximise the effectiveness of the turbine installations. 47 pages.
Provides a rigorous analysis of all the factors that influence the power that small wind turbines can generate in urban areas
Studies the whole life costs and carbon emission costs of micro-wind turbines
Case studies for three locations - Manchester, Wick and Portsmouth
2 Inventory analysis of micro-wind turbine systems
University of Bath LCA data
Comparison with LCA data for other turbines
Installation, maintenance and operation of the micro-wind systems
3 Estimation of typical urban wind resource
Wind resource - adjustment factors for urban environments
4 Electricity generation by building-mounted wind turbines in typical urban scenarios
Methodology for the electricity calculation
5 CO2 payback for domestic micro-wind turbines in urban environments
6 Life cycle costs and financial payback for micro-wind turbines
Introduction to life cycle costing
What costs are taken into account when undertaking LCC for a wind turbine?
7 Discussion and conclusions
8 Further work