Quentin Scott, Marketing Director, Low Carbon (Renewable Energy Investors), UK
Wind turbines are important for the renewable energy they produce and equally important what they do not produce: greenhouse gas emissions. That means UK emissions drop and the air clears a bit more with every additional wind turbine installed.
Some of those prevented emissions are CO2. In 2012, the carbon footprint of wind energy was around 9 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt hour according to a study by Begoña Guezuraga, Rudolf Zauna and Werner Pölz, published in the Journal Renewable Energy. Of these emissions, 98% are a product of manufacturing and construction while the remaining 2% are generated by transportation used by engineers to service the turbine.
Wind power is one of the world’s fastest growing renewable energy sources and will become increasingly so as the technology advances. Another recent study, this one by RenewableUK (Small and Medium Wind UK Market Report 2015), small and medium wind turbine installations represented a total generating capacity of 248 MW by the end of 2014 – more than double the capacity delivered in 2012, delivering over 391 GWh of energy across the whole of 2014. The small and medium segment alone prevented the generation of 168,257 tons of carbon dioxide. The total UK power capacity jumps to over 7,000 MW (2014) when all the country’s installed onshore wind turbines are included, according to the RenewableUK Wind Energy Database.
In areas where wind power is now a mature technology, such as Texas, energy bills are driven down to zero at certain times of day, thus increasing the attractiveness of the technology. What’s more, O&M costs for wind turbines are low, around 1.5 to 2% of the original investment per year, according to Wind Measurement International. New designs and ideas will drive that percentage even lower.
The proceeding observations suggest that it is a good time to invest in wind power. There are several ways. Companies such as Low Carbon offer renewable energy investment for clean-energy projects and businesses. Other ways include direct ownership which requires the most capital but provides the most income.
There are a number of factors to consider before investing, such as the area and location of the land required, the wind speed at that location, business goals, and the available financing options. Specialist companies such as Endurance Wind Power can help with financing, as well as alternative options such as land-rental income from a turbine owned and installed by Endurance and multi-unit investments.
The company also has a new small-wind turbine plan launched by the Trillion Fund which attracts earnings in return for an initial investment of as little as £50 ($76). With the land rental approach, the project costs, such as planning, grid connection, and ongoing maintenance, are covered by the company while income is generated through an annual share of the gross revenue generated by the turbine, depending on wind speed and turbine model. Returns of £3,000 to £20,000 ($4,500 to $30,000) per year are achievable in addition to significant reductions on energy bills and carbon emissions.