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The UK cemented its position as the leading player in the global offshore wind energy market today with the announcement that it has attained one gigawatt of installed offshore wind capacity.

Trade association RenewableUK said that the completion of Dong Energy’s Gunfleet Sands offshore wind farm and E.ON’s Robin Rigg development means that the UK now boasts 11 working offshore wind farms, featuring 336 wind turbines capable of generating power for up to 700,000 homes.

The association said that the rapidly expanding sector was also poised to accelerate further, with more than 40GW of capacity now at various stages of the development pipeline. Most notably, around 30GW of capacity is expected to be delivered through the recently awarded Round 3 projects, the first of which are expected to come online during the second half of the decade.

“The UK offshore wind industry has come of age,” said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK. “In the last 10 years we have built a brand new world-leading industry sector that will create long-term value for this country. ”

She added that the UK wind energy industry now had the foundations in place to build a “position of global leadership” and establish a flourishing supply chain that will create jobs and provide a major boost to the country’s emerging marine energy industry.

The landmark was welcomed by each of the three main political parties, which each vowed to deliver policies that would accelerate the expansion of the offshore wind industry.

The landmark comes a day after new figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) suggested that the UK’s oft-criticised wind farm planning system is not so bad compared to some of its European neighbours.

The trade association reported that on average it takes 42 months to get building consent for a wind farm in the EU, compared with an average 27-month wait in the UK.

Finland topped the league table with an eight-month wait, followed by Austria with 10 months, Italy with 18 and Romania with 15.

In contrast, wind developers in Portugal, a country with some of the best wind resources in Europe, had to wait an average of 58 months to receive planning approval, while it took more than 50 months in Spain and Greece.

The report also highlighted huge variations in the level of complexity wind farm developers have to navigate, with Danish developers having to contact just five different agencies when seeking planning permission. On the other hand, Greek developers have to contact 41 different bodies.

“If Europe is serious about reaching 20 per cent renewables by 2020, some member states need to streamline their consent procedures for wind farms,” said Justin Wilkes, EWEA policy director. “There are a number of actions all member states could take: creating a one-stop-shop approach for contacting the different authorities, writing clear guidelines for developers, and introducing better and streamlined spatial planning procedures.”

The report also found that planning delays were far less severe for offshore wind farms, with developers waiting just 18 months on average for a decision.

source guardian

  1. Plans for world’s largest wind farm at risk of shutdown
  2. Britain deploys interference-reducing radars on wind farms
  3. Worldwide wind industry growth cannot be stopped, says group
  4. Siemens tasked with EWE’s second offshore wind project in Germany
  5. U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report

UK offshore wind breezes through 1GW barrier

Popular Brands of Mini Wind Turbines

Mini wind turbines are offering great promise for energy independence. These highly efficient, technologically advanced pieces of equipment produce an amazing amount of electricity for their size. Since wind is a constantly renewing source of energy, while fossil fuels are being depleted – as well as being very expensive – more homeowners are turning to mini wind turbines to be an essential part of their energy future.

Here is an overview of the leading brands in the Wind Power Industry.

Sunforce Wind Turbines

An industry leader, Sunforce models are constructed of cast aluminum that is light weight and fully weatherproof. Their lineup of products feature units that mount easily to buildings, chimneys, or mounting poles. Their tower kits are a popular and easy mounting system.

Helix Mini Turbines

These innovative Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) efficiently turn wind into usable energy for your home, business, or equipment needs. The Helix mini turbines use wind scoops to stop the wind, rather than blades. An added bonus is the aesthetically appealing look of the Helix mini wind turbine models.

Air X Mini Wind Generators

This company combines basic wind technology with cutting edge ways to make it more efficient to turn the potential energy of wind into electrical energy. Their commitment to the best engineering and design make their units among the most effective in the industry.

Air Breeze Wind Generators

The engineers at Air Breeze constantly work to find air blade design that more effectively captures the wind and converts it into usable energy. Materials and construction combine to maximize the efficiency in their models. Most popular in the marine world, the Air Breeze brand is one of the best!

Whisper Wind Turbines

Another brand from Southwest Windpower. Many of their models are the best sellers in their class, and are made for a wide variety of wind conditions, from moderate to extreme. High quality bearings and Yaw shafts produce very efficient conversion of the wind’s potential energy to the electrical energy for home use.

Are Home Wind Turbines Even Practical?

The short answer... maybe.

Turns out that a home wind generator can provide a homeowner with a real-world alternative to electricity purchased off the grid. Or at least a portion thereof. But there are conditions upon which that practicality hinges. What Makes A Home Wind Generator Practical?

Must Have Wind

First and foremost, the homeowner needs a reliable source of wind, and enough of it. The Department of Energy suggests that a homeowner needs a location with winds clocking in at an annual wind speeds of 9.8 to 11.5 mph. You can get an idea of wind speeds in your general area by consulting a wind resource map. The DOE, among other entities, publish such maps by region.

Need Clearance Around Wind Turbine

Clearance comes in second. Your region might have a qualifying wind speed, but all that is negated if you don't have clearance on your property to be able to access that wind. You need to be able to get a turbine 30 feet above wind obstructions like trees, buildings, etc. to avoid turbulence that can reduce energy efficiency and even damage the turbine. Most experts recommend at least an acre of land. In some cases, zoning may require it.

Legal and Zoning

Speaking of zoning, local zoning codes need to allow for home wind generators. One common fight: tower height. And while local zoning departments have discretion when it comes to issuing waivers for small wind turbines, nothing is a given. Contact your local zoning office early in the planning stage.

High Utility Bills

Your monthly electric bills need to be relatively significant. If you're paying the local utility $150 a month or more for electricity, a home wind generator could save you money - provided the above conditions are also met. Why so much? Because a home wind generator represents a sizable up-front investment. The payback on that investment hinges on the contribution it can make every month to your electricity needs. The greater your needs, the greater the contribution, the shorter the payback period and the sooner the system can begin delivering energy at a cost of zero or near zero.

By contrast, if a homeowner uses very little electricity, the monthly contribution of such a system would be minimal and payback much longer. Indeed, there is a point at which payback is so long that it matches the functional life of the system, and no real savings is ever generated. Hence, $150 a month is a rule of thumb to ensure some level of cost savings over the life of a wind generator.

Comfortable With The Long-Term Investments

Last but not least, you need to be comfortable living with long-term investments. As is hinted by the example above, payback is measured in years.

About the Author

Writing for the website, author David Alan Carter offers up a more detailed guide to home wind generators, and compares residential solar energy to home wind power.

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Popular Types of Home Wind Turbines

Mini Wind Turbines are an alternative form of energy production that is growing in popularity as energy prices rise, fossil fuel supplies become depleted, and the energy grid continues to become more fragile. These machines efficiently convert kinetic energy to mechanical energy that can be used in all electricity applications. Here are several popular types of mini wind turbines.

Horizontal Axis Mini Wind Turbine

This is the most common design, and features a shaft that is parallel to the ground with the blades running perpendicular to the ground. This type can be mounted on the ground, a roof top, or on a pole of various heights. The flexibility for pole mounting allows these mini turbines to be raised as high as needed to catch the wind. A small wind tail or vane points the turbine into the wind. They typically have three stiff blades to capture that drive the generator. Horizontal designs are the most efficient. Low vibration and low noise are other features.

Vertical Axis Mini Wind Turbine

Here, the rotating shaft is perpendicular to the ground, with the blades rotating parallel to the ground. They may have the advantage of capturing wind in settings where it is quite variable, since the turbine does not need to be pointed directly into the wind. These are commonly placed on the ground or rooftops, rather than on mounting poles. Rooftop mounting may increase rotation speed significantly as the building redirects wind up and into the mini wind turbine’s position.

Darrieus Mini Wind Turbine

This style is a derivative of vertical axis wind turbines. Three vertical aerofoil blades are employed, and are manufactured with a helical 60-degree twist that enhances their ability to capture wind. The design diminishes destructive force of the rotations, providing greater durability. Not in wide use, but continued testing and design changes offer possibilities.

Further Reading:

Are Home Wind Generators Worth the Hype?

If you’ve been using a home wind generator for any length of time, you will respond to that question with an enthusiastic “absolutely yes!” or maybe an even more colorful affirmative answer. Is saving money worth the hype? Who would say “no” to that? Is being responsible with your use of the world’s non-renewable resources worth the hype? A Growing number of thousands of homeowners are using home wind generators for that very purpose! Is it great to have a backup source of power when storms or heat-related overload cause yet another power outage on the grid?

Endure a few days in a cold and dark home, or the sweltering summer heat without A/C and you’ll agree, too, having a quality home wind generator that can produce part or all of your home’s energy is a tremendous advantage. It is clean, it is green, and the cost savings are simply awesome. While no one knows how expensive electricity generated by fossil fuels may become, the wind is, and always will be, free of charge.

With outstanding technological advances in the last decade, home wind generators now make it possible to generate and store a significant amount of energy. For example, one home wind generator, even when wind speeds are not high, can generate enough power to run the lights in the average home. With more wind generators, and normal wind speeds, your goal of being less dependent on the unstable electrical grid and the unpredictable power companies can be within reach!