Wind turbines are one of the more popular forms of renewable energy available to the domestic customer. They are simple to install, reasonably priced and provide generous amounts of energy, as long as they are situated in the correct environment. However, not everyone has the ability to pay the several thousand pounds required to install a domestic wind turbine of the size required to make that investment worthwhile.
For those customers a free wind turbine scheme might be the answer. There are still companies which provide a wind turbine at no cost in return for the feed-in-tariff income it generates. This is a win win for the customer and the installer as they get on-going income and the customer gets free electricity.
In general these schemes are set up as follows:
- The installer will assess your property to see if it meets their minimum wind speed criteria
- A planning permission application is placed by the installer (they may ask for you to fund this part of the process)
- The wind turbine is installed at no cost to you. You may choose to have more than one turbine depending on planning permission and the available space.
- The installer will receive the feed-in-tariff for the turbine for 20 years and you will get the free electricity which is generated. This covers the installers costs and will offer you some savings (although it is unlikely to completely cover your electricity needs).
- At the end of the contract period, the installer will decommission your wind turbine and remove it. Sometimes it may be negotiated to have the turbine remain in place.
- The installer will cover the cost of all maintenance during the contract period.
This scheme may seem very attractive however there are a few points to bear in mind before you sign on the dotted line.
- You may find it difficult to sell your home with the wind turbine installed. The contract may need to be passed to the new owner or you may still be liable for the remainder of the contract. You could also be expected to pay a sum of money to have the wind turbine removed if you sell.
- The income from the feed-in-tariff can be substantial and would certainly pay off the installation during 20 years. It may make better financial sense to buy the turbine yourself and have that income as your own.
- The electricity saved may not meet your expectations
- Your turbine may not be installed with batteries to allow you to save the electricity generated for future use
There are no alternative options when it comes to getting free wind turbines. The government does not offer any grants which covers the full cost and councils are not willing to invest in these schemes. However you may be able to get involved in a community project to buy a large scale turbine and the Green Deal may allow you to get a low cost loan to cover the cost.