DIBU

Information on smaller wind turbines

Introduction

The problems associated with dwindling resources, environmental pollution and climate change and their consequences are well known. As such, it’s clear that energy production must now focus on renewables. Wind energy plays a major role in electricity generation.

Even though there’s still a lack of political support and equality with solar power, we’re confident that wind energy will become one of the biggest energy sources over the next 20 years and ensure growth and added value primarily in the German coastal regions. According to the calculations of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), the proportion of renewable energies in the European energy generation mix will triple to 48% between 2007 and 2030. The proportion of wind energy in the renewable energy mix will double from 23% to around 50%, with half of this wind energy produced on land and half offshore.

In 2009, wind energy in Germany reduced CO2 emissions by around 30 million tonnes. By 2025, the proportion of wind energy in the energy generation mix is set to increase to 25% as compared to energy consumption today. This alone would reduce our CO2 emissions by 20%, making the significance of wind energy in terms of environmental protection clearer than ever before.

Wind energy will play a central role in achieving a near carbon-neutral energy supply in Germany by 2050.

952 new wind farms were built in 2009, meaning that by the end of 2009 Germany had a total of 21,164 wind farms with an electrical output of 25,777 megawatts.

Currently, almost 8% of Germany’s net energy requirements are met with electricity generated by wind farms. Within 20 years, the proportion of wind energy in the energy mix has increased by a factor of ten. Particularly small wind turbines, defined by the EN 61400-2 standard as “wind-powered turbines with a surface area exposed to the wind of up to 200 m²”, are continually finding their way into new market segments.


Predictions
As increasingly efficient small wind turbines are being produced, we can expect to see prices decrease. Since the price of electricity is set to continue rising, the amount of profit gained from a small wind turbine will also continue to increase and the payback period will become shorter.


Did you know?
When comparing small wind turbines from various manufacturers, it’s important to bear in mind that the various rated outputs can relate to different wind speeds. The choice of location is key, as the wind needs to hit the turbine as directly as possible. Turbulence reduces the electricity yield and lowers the service life of the system. Even the best system is of no use if there isn’t enough wind! The lower threshold for operating a small wind turbine is an average annual wind speed of 4 m/s, while speeds from 7 m/s should translate into a profitable investment.
The German meteorological service offers wind maps that gauge wind potential at a height of 10 metres (information available at www.dwd.de). However, detailed regional maps are often subject to a charge.

Bureaucracy
The situation with regard to planning permission is not consistent across Germany and is regulated by the individual states. The local building authorities can provide information as to whether planning permission is required and what documents are necessary.

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), decentralised small wind turbines will have a major influence on energy generation in the next few years and may even come to dominate the sector. Forecasts indicate that the share of decentralised energy supply in the EU’s installed power station capacity will rise to 40% by 2020. And because wind and solar energy and small-scale combined heat and power plants are set to become even more widespread, “regenerative energies and cogeneration could account for more than half of the electricity consumed in the EU by 2020” (BCG study, Toward a Distributed-Power World).

In future, a major proportion of energy will be generated by a large number of small producers. BCG predicts there’s no stopping the shift from “consumer” to “prosumer” (producer/consumer). The state of Schleswig-Holstein plans to cover the energy consumption of its entire population with wind power from 2020 onwards .

According to a representative study conducted by TNS Infratest, 92% of Germans would prefer to buy electricity from green energy sources.  

Regenerative, decentralised energy supply is the path towards solving the energy and environmental problems we face, and we aim to make a significant contribution.

 

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