In a recent conversation a farmer told me that if OFGEM reduce the Feed in Tariff by the expected 20%, he doesn’t think wind turbines will be viable any more.
He was right, and wrong!
The viability of wind turbines after April 1st will depend on a number of key factors, including…
- Wind speed.
- Planning policy/constraints.
- Turbine cost.
- Turbine performance.
If you are also wondering whether it’s too late to start planning for a wind turbine, then in this article I want to help you decide by exploring each of the above facets – so you can make your mind up.
1. Wind speed.
At the risk of stating the obvious – if your farm is in an area of low wind speed then erecting a medium size 225kw or 500kw wind turbine like the ones we provide is going to be a fairly pointless exercise. However, a few years ago an average wind speed could still expect to make a great return on investment.
However, if after 1st April 2014 the feed in tariff drops by 20%, an average wind speed will make the decision to proceed with planning or not a much bigger decision. Money can be tied up a lot longer. Banks may look a lot longer and harder at loan applications.
So, if you don’t yet know what you average estimated wind speed is, find out now before you do anything else.Check your wind speed
If you’re looking to buy a wind turbine and own it outright, a wind speed of 6 metres per second is still viable if you buy a refurbished wind turbine, because the initial outlay is so much lower than buying a new one.
2. Local Planning Policy/Constraints.
Your local planning authorities may have various local planning constraints that cost a lot of money to overcome.
We’ve even heard of authorities requesting full-size paper-mache turbine mockups, to prove transport and delivery to site is possible!
Of course there are many ‘Renewable Energy Experts’ out there – companies who will help you gain planning permission for one or more turbines. The only problem is that many of them charge more than £30,000 and that is totally speculative.
If they fail to get you planning then you will be out of pocket by that much… with absolutely nothing to show for it.
Before you head into planning try and find out from other local farmers how they got their wind turbines passed, and the objections you’re likely to face.
Factors like MOD radar stations and airfields nearby could mean you don’t stand a chance of getting planning in which case you are of course best keeping your wallet shut when an expert offers to do your planning!
(NB: We don’t charge our land lease clients or Joint Venture partners for planning at all… we perform it entirely free of charge. It is our belief that if you’re willing to go with our company, you should not have to accept any risk whatsoever.)
3. Turbine cost.
As mentioned above, if you have a wind speed lower than 7 metres per second it could be a lot harder to justify paying for a brand new turbine, because it could take many years before you break-even and start to achieve a return on your investment.
This is one of the main reasons why my business partner Mark and I decided to form Boythorpe Wind Energy—to provide refurbished turbines that achieve payback much faster than buying new – even more important if (or I should say when) the feed in tariff drops significantly.
4. Turbine Performance.
If you buy a cheap or poorly made turbine, and it’s constantly breaking down, then of course that will keep eating into your profits.
This is why we only provide Vestas and Enercon wind turbines – they’re incredibly well made, and are the proven work-horses of the wind energy industry. Despite being ‘second hand’ – they come with a two years full warranty and can be fully insured against breakdown and loss of earnings.
If you would like to buy a used (refurbished) wind turbine from us get in touch today… before it really is too late!