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Giant wind turbines are now part of the landscape

Ecological and profitable in the more or less long term, wind energy is entering individual homes. It complements the offer of available solutions to achieve individual energy autonomy. Very common in northern Europe, domestic wind turbines can be a step towards self-consumption or a source of income if the surplus is resold. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this type of energy.

Domestic wind: clean and free energy

Wind power is a form ofclean, sustainable and non-polluting energy. Its principle is simple: large blades, installed at the top of a mast, are connected to a horizontal axis, which begins to turn on itself when the wind drives the blades. The horizontal axis is connected to a generator. When the wind blows and the blades and their axis are moving, the rotation can produce electricity that is then stored in batteries (24 or 48 volts) until they are consumed. Some models, thanks to a charge controller and wind inverters, can send electricity directly into the home network. Less common, but also less voluminous, vertical wind turbines (VAWT) have helical blades that rotate on the vertical axis of the mat.

A promise full of benefits
Clean, sustainable and based on a free resource (the wind): wind energy at all to compete with photovoltaic solar panels in terms of ecological energy. A wind turbine gives the best of its potential when the winds are strong, that is to say in the heart of the winter, when the needs in electricity increase. In well-winded areas, a wind turbine can significant drop in the electricity bill. In the event of a surplus (when the energy produced is surplus to needs), it is possible to make a profit by selling it back to the energy supplier.
For isolated buildings that are not connected to the grid, wind energy can provide autonomy of needs in electricity. It also advantageously complements a system of photovoltaic solar panels and continues to produce electricity at night and in winter. After 25 years (at the end of its life cycle), it can be fully recycled.

A more complex reality
If the promises of domestic wind energy are interesting, the reality may be a little less favorable. Indeed, the costs for the installation are, compared to the production, quite high. While self-consumption (ie the direct consumption of energy produced to meet the needs of the home) is possible, professionals most often recommend system coupled with solar energy. A number of scams have unfortunately tainted the reputation of domestic wind (such as photovoltaics) and caution is required when starting such projects. Very low acquisition and installation prices and promises of too high performances should encourage caution. If the electricity produced by a wind turbine can be stored, its power output, expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh) is significantly lower than that of solar. The noise generated by moving blades is also often pointed out by users.

Install a wind turbine at home

Wind resources
Before planning to install a wind turbine on its ground, it must be verified that it is sufficiently exposed to the wind (annual wind force of at least 20 km / h) and that there is an open area for the implementation of the equipment. ADEME proposes a map of "deposits" wind farms in France, weighted according to the regions and the environment of the sites.
Administrative authorizations
Moreover, beyond 12 m in height for the mast (up to the top of the platform), you must ask for a building permit. Below 12 m, a simple prior declaration of work enough. Be careful also to take into account any regulatory constraints of residence or condominium! It is also prudent to inform neighbors not to generate conflicts.
No official certification
A wind turbine is a significant investment, yet in France, domestic wind is not yet subject to AFNOR or ISO certification. We will therefore seek certifications from countries where wind is more developed, as in Germany or the Netherlands.

Aid for the installation of a domestic wind turbine
CITE (Tax Credit for Energy Transition) was removed for wind energy in 2016, but it is still possible to benefit from a VAT at a reduced rate (10%) for the installation of a domestic wind turbine (labor and purchase of materials). The FACÉ (Electricity Charges Damping Fund), the ADEME (Environment and Energy Management Agency) and the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) can provide aids that are specific to each city, department or region. All the necessary information is available at the town hall or from a local Energy Info Advisor.

How to sell wind energy

Electricity produced by a domestic wind turbine can be connected to the electricity gridin which case the supplier installs an electricity meter. In the event of a surplus, the supplier buys back the surplus energy to reinject it into its network. Only wind turbines located in wind energy development zones (ZDEs) that have a repurchase agreement signed with a supplier can claim to sell their surplus.
With a 15-year term, this contract is not particularly favorable to individuals, since the rates charged in 2018 are the lowest in Europe (and much lower than the surrender rates of the surplus of other renewable energies). There is also the cost of connecting to the network.

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