Generate energy with a wind turbine

Onshore wind turbines are the most installed capacity of any renewable technology. They account for a quarter of electricity generated from renewables and can generate up to 15% of all electricity, depending on wind speeds and demand.

Installing your own wind turbine reduces reliance on electricity from the National Grid and could save money over time.

Find out more about domestic and commercial wind turbines and if one is right for your business.

Contents

  1. Decide if wind power is right for your business
  2. Check which wind turbine is best for business
  3. Which businesses benefit most from wind turbines
  4. Check wind speed in your area
  5. Calculate upfront costs and payback times
  6. Sell electricity back to the grid
  7. Maintenance and running costs
  8. Get permission to install a wind turbine
  9. Find a certified installer
  10. Incentives for investing in wind turbines
  11. Find finance and support

Decide if wind power is right for your business

With high electricity prices it makes sense for SMEs to consider generating their own energy.

Wind power generated through wind turbines:

  • reduces your reliance on paying market rates for electricity
  • allows your business to sell surplus power back to the grid

Compared to solar panels, wind turbines typically have higher upfront costs and longer pay back times.

However, wind turbines generate more electricity and more regularly.

Check which wind turbine is best for your business

A wind turbine is a tower with rotor blades that are turned by the wind to produce electricity. The more wind, the more energy is produced.

There are 3 types of wind turbine for domestic and home use:

  • building mounted
  • pole mounted
  • modern free standing

Building mounted turbines:

  • are smaller, cheaper, but less efficient
  • can be installed on a roof where there is a suitable wind resource
  • are appropriate for smaller buildings – either residential or commercial
  • typically generate 2kW

Pole mounted wind turbines:

  • are medium cost and size and more efficient than building-mounted turbines
  • need to be installed where there is the space to install within set separation distances
  • appropriate for larger estates – either larger residences or medium sized commercial buildings
  • have a generation capacity of around 6kW

Modern free standing turbines:

  • are the most expensive but the most efficient
  • can be installed either on site or where there is available land nearby
  • require larger estates and are only generally appropriate for businesses
  • are generally between 1-3MW in capacity

Which businesses benefit most from wind turbines

Your business will benefit from wind turbines if you use more electricity and more evenly throughout the year, for example:

  • warehouse distribution centres
  • data centres
  • heavier industry

Depending on the size of the system and the size of the business, wind turbines are a good fit for businesses who:

  • have some flexibility to move their demand while they are generating
  • have cash flow or finances to invest in upfront costs
  • are in areas of higher wind speeds in rural or urban environments – these tend to be open, exposed, or elevated areas
  • have enough land or roof space to mount a wind turbine

Check wind speed in your area

According to Energy Saving Trust, for a wind turbine to work properly, you need an average wind speed of at least 5m/s.

The surrounding area should be free from obstacles such as trees or tall buildings.

Visit Energy Saving Trust for details on how to measure wind speeds (PDF).

Enter your postcode in Energy Saving Trust’s wind speed predictor if you live in Scotland to find average wind speeds in your area.

It is always better to put the turbines in the windiest place possible.

Wind turbines have cut-in and cut-out speeds. The cut-out speed will halt generation when it is too dangerous.

Calculate upfront costs and payback periods

How much you will pay for a single wind turbine depends on the size and type of system.

Roof-mounted turbines are much cheaper to install than pole-mounted ones, but produce less energy.

The payback period depends on:

  • how much you’re paying for electricity now
  • whether you intend to use the wind power yourself or sell it back to the grid
  • whether you install batteries

Sell electricity back to the grid

  1. Smaller pole mounted and roof mounted wind turbines

Usually, smaller pole mounted and roof mounted wind turbines are used to support on site generation.

Any surplus electricity can be sold back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) program. This option becomes particularly beneficial during periods of low energy usage or when wind speeds are high. The SEG program allows for the sale of excess electricity with a capacity of up to 5MW.

The greatest benefit from wind turbines comes from onsite consumption and SEG provides second income stream.

Different energy suppliers offer different rates (tariffs). Generators thinking of applying for a SEG tariff should therefore shop around to see which tariff is best for their individual circumstances.

Find out if you are eligible for SEG and apply for a licence on Ofgem’s website.

  1. Larger free standing turbines

Larger, free standing turbines can both:

  • support on site generation
  • generate extra renewable energy to sell back to the grid

Usually, free standing turbines are on mainly on larger commercial premises such as warehouses or heavy industry plants.

There is more than one way to sell excess electricity back to suppliers, depending on the size of the system.

Electricity generated by a wind turbine can also be exported to the electricity network or used directly by the consumer (or both) via a Power Purchase agreement (PPA).

You should review a range of short-term PPAs if you have more than 60kWs of renewable assets. You should negotiate a power purchase agreement with your supplier for the best possible deal.

This can provide additional income for the electricity you generate.

Maintenance and running costs

Examine the manufacturer’s warranty and maintenance terms carefully when choosing a unit.

The average life of a good quality wind turbine is 20-25 years. Some parts may need replacing in this time.

You will need to carry out a maintenance check every few year – this can cost between £100 and £200.

You may need to replace the inverter at some point – this can cost anywhere from £1,000 to £2,000.

Buy batteries if you wish to store energy. The cost of batteries varies depends on the design and scale of the system.

When you need to replace batteries depends on how often and how you cycle your battery. Usually, battery manufacturers offer 10-year warranties for small systems at 80% of original capacities.

Get permission to install a wind turbine

Check with your landlord if you rent your property before installing a wind turbine – even if it’s a small roof-mounted system.

You might not need planning permission if you own your property and your system is below certain thresholds. This would be considered a permitted development.

How thresholds and planning permission for wind turbines are decided depends on which region you live in the UK.

Visit the Planning Portal for a full list of relevant planning permission guidelines for England and Wales.

You must apply for planning permission to install a wind turbine in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Get planning permission from your local planning authority at an early stage.

Find a certified installer

Contact a certified installer if you need help designing an energy system which is right for your business.

You can also find local installers using the Green Economy website.

Incentives for investing in wind turbines

There are incentives available for investing in wind turbine installations. These include:

  1. Saving on VAT on domestic wind turbine installations

From 2022 to 2027 VAT will no longer be charged on some domestic energy saving measures in England, Scotland and Wales.

This means that it will be up to 20% cheaper to make your home business more energy efficient.

Eligible measures include insulation, heat pumps, solar panels, wind turbines and more.

  1. Targeted business rates exemptions

Targeted business rates exemptions apply for eligible plant and machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and storage, and a 100% relief for eligible low-carbon heat networks with their own rates bill until 31 March 2035.

  1. Capital allowances

Businesses who are eligible can fully expense their plant and machinery costs and access 50% first-year allowances for special rate expenditure.

Visit GOV.UK for more information on capital allowances.

Find finance and support

Use our finance and support page to find green business grant programmes in your region.

Many are designed to help with improving energy efficiency, including the cost of heat pumps.

They can also offer:

  • grants with no payback requirement
  • matching funds up to a total amount or percentage of costs
  • loans with low or no interest
  • free expertise for energy assessments

Funding is dependent on the size of your business and where it’s located.

You can also use GOV.UK’s fund listing service to find programmes that apply to your business.