Small-scale wind addresses key drawbacks of wind turbines

Wind energy

As the UK works towards its net zero goals, businesses and organisations are looking for alternative ways in which they can play their part in reducing carbon emissions. With a multitude of countries now declaring net zero targets, organisations and businesses around the globe are making changes to ensure these goals are met.

In the UK, there must be a focus on reducing the demand for energy across the economy, beginning with resource and energy efficiency. This includes making societal changes which lead to less carbon-intensive activities. Extensive electrification across the board, supported by a considerable expansion of renewable and other low-carbon power generation, is needed to make a successful transition to net zero. Everyone will benefit from an improved environment and reduced exposure to climate risks, however the net zero commitment must be made a priority at every level of the UK Government.

People, businesses, and institutions need to be making incremental efforts to reduce their environmental impact. Emerging technologies, such as small wind turbines are interesting because on its own it will not eradicate the need for other renewable energy sources, but if adopted on a wide scale, it could make a significant difference in reducing emissions.

What is small wind?

One of the big barriers to wind power in the past has been the challenge of high wind shear and turbulent environments. Such projects are typically in built up areas where high turbulence levels and veering or swirling winds could cause fatigue damage to the turbines. The problems of reliability, noise and vibrations have also deterred take up.

Many turbines were too large to realistically implement onsite. They were often noisy and were likely to induce vibrations that risked compromising the safety of construction sites. Another deterring factor for large turbines is that it is more complicated to carry out maintenance on large structures in built up areas. So, what do small wind turbines offer?

“Small wind turbines have completely different characteristics to the wind turbines of the past, offering a solution to these historical challenges,” Martin Barnes, CEO of Crossflow Energy, explains. “They are easy to install, efficient and reliable, and the modern design enables the turbine to be more efficient than existing slow rotating predecessors. The advancement in blade technology and optimised aerodynamics allows maximum wind energy to be harvested and ensures the turbine is self-starting at a wide array of wind speeds.”

In order to maximise the renewable energy on site and ensure as big an incremental gain as possible, the Crossflow turbine can be utilised as a standalone option, or alongside solar and battery storage. This type of innovation furthers the opportunities available to businesses looking to play their part in reducing carbon emissions. The properties of these turbines means that they have improved likelihood of overcoming traditional planning constraints and have increased potential to be installed at both urban and ecologically sensitive sites.

“The low rotational speed of small wind turbines means that vibrations are incredibly low and very little sound is produced making them ideal for urban applications,” Barnes adds. “The design requires minimal maintenance which is perfect for hard-to-reach rural sites or high-rise buildings. Avian and chiropteran wildlife are also not a problem with these turbines, as the animals are able to detect them due to the slow rotational speeds and overall solid profile.”

The versatility of small-scale wind

So, where can small-scale wind technologies be found? The possibilities are endless, from hospital and university developments to rail and road infrastructure. They can be easily integrated into all areas of society, if a robust, existing structure exists, the turbine can be implemented. Performance, reliability and planning concerns have been addressed by modern technologies, which is what makes it a good fit for businesses and those people who want to play their part in reducing carbon emissions and ultimately help the UK reach its Net Zero goals. With these issues no longer prevalent, there is no reason why small wind turbines shouldn’t become as mainstream as solar.

Small wind is a renewable energy source that is currently being overlooked, but not for much longer. Re-education is necessary to replace outdated views on wind power, with the reality that small wind is a valid, reliable, and potent source of clean energy. An increasing number of businesses are looking for money saving and energy efficient solutions, as a way to both reduce energy bills and do their part for the environment. Net zero is no longer just a buzzword, but rather a very real initiative which businesses need to get behind.

The 2050 target aside, energy efficient ways to run and heat buildings is the future. With the new technologies and capabilities of next generation renewable energy that are now available, overlooking the untapped potential of small wind is no longer an option.   

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