Farmers to harvest energy with mini wind turbines

Farmers could soon be planting rows of mini-wind turbines in hedgerows as part of an innovative project to harness the countryside's wind energy while avoiding the usual objections over 'unsightliness.'

The mini-turbines are a tenth the size of the traditional white giants and much less obtrusive, perhaps providing a way around one of the biggest obstacles to the development of wind power in the UK.

“We already have nearly 1000 machines across the country and people in general don’t object to them because they’re so small. By the time you’ve got a hundred yards or so away they disappear,” Gordon Proven of Proven Energy, the Scottish renewables company behind the project, told edie.

“What we are trying to do is produce the same sort of power of a big wind farm but with smaller machines, and plant them most usually in hedges on farms,” he said.

Proven Energy is asking farmers to join a scheme under which they hire out some of their land to ‘plant’ the 15-metre wind turbines in rows, with the power generated sold onto the electricity grid. Farmers will also benefit from lower energy prices under the concept, which the company has christened “windcrofting.”

Additionally, farmers will not lose productive farmland as the turbines can be planted in hedgerows.

The company has already signed up about 30 farmers to the scheme – and that’s even before starting to actively publicise it. Farmers have come forward spontaneously after hearing about the scheme from media reports.

“The farmers we have talked to have been very enthusiastic, particularly because it costs them nothing – they actually get money out of it,” Gordon Proven said. “And we are not taking up their land – only hedges, set-aside land or any wasteland they might have.”

“We seem to have stirred up quite a lot of interest in particular in Cornwall and Devon for some reason,” he added.

Proven Energy initially hopes to start up seven such projects and recruit 3000 farmers, with clusters of five wind turbines per farm. The UK-wide scheme will be generating energy “equivalent to a nuclear power station,” the company calculates.

“This has never been done before,” Gordon Proven said. “We’ve been trying to do this since 1998, and the market and the general feeling in the country are probably better now. But it helped when we came up with the name of “windcrofting” which seems to appeal to people,” he continued.

The technology has an enormous potential, he believes: “If we had a turbine like this on every farm in Britain we would provide about 50 per cent of Britain’s electricity, so that is the ultimate potential.”

More information on windcrofting can be found at the Proven Energy website.

Goska Romanowicz

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