A new study put out by the UK’s Carbon Trust reports that domestic windmills in urban locations are actually net carbon emitters, as more energy goes into their production, shipping, and maintenance than is saved by their use.
Additionally, the study notes that home wind power could only provide .4% of UK electricity consumption and will only save .6 million tons of carbon dioxide. For reference, the Carbon Trust says that 1.5 TWh could be produced annually using urban windmills—and the UK used 2,700 TWh of energy in 2006.
The reason why urban windmills aren’t useful is fairly simple. The Carbon Trust explains that small wind turbines require open, exposed locations that have high wind speeds. These locations are usually found in rural areas, which can produce nine times more wind energy than urban areas. Since the output from urban windmills is low, the cost of the resulting energy ends up being high.
But while wind energy may not be the way to go in cities, that doesn’t mean that urban homes can’t make use of alternative energies. Solar power is becoming increasingly popular, and plenty of cities around the world get more than enough sunshine to utilize it effectively.
Additionally, transmission lines can deliver wind power from rural areas to urban areas. So if you’re really stuck on powering your apartment or townhouse with wind, the future isn’t entirely bleak.
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- The Five Best Micro Wind Turbines
- Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines: The Future of Micro Wind?
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.