If the wind is free, why not use it to produce our own energy at home? Mini wind technology is available and Spain has leading companies doing just that worldwide. Although there is an estimated 10,000 small wind facilities in Spain, its use is not as wide as it could be. Unlike the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, the legal regulation in Spain hampers using mini wind turbines in domestic environments.
This article clarifies whether it is possible to harness wind energy at home, explain why mini windmills have not taken off in this country and give details about the main Spanish companies providing mini wind power.
Wind energy at home, is it possible?
As with a photovoltaic energy a consumer approaches the sun to produce their own energy at home, with a small mini wind turbine of up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of power could do the same using the wind. Both technologies combined in the best way possible, and could supply the annual consumption of a home.
An installation of photovoltaic and mini wind could easily supply the annual consumption of a home.
However, Spain does not have much production of mini wind energy. With no official records, we only have estimations as to the number of homes using wind power.
Of course a large number are installations in isolated environments (homes in rural areas, shelters, farms, etc.) and few are grid-connected. Generally, about 3 to 5 kW turbines are installed in network environments and connected to a distributed generation system for multiple users, and between 0.6 and 3 kW in isolated environments. As for the most powerful turbines (which do not belong to large electric companies), of about 100 kW, there will be about 6 or 7 installed in Spain.
Why the mini wind energy doesn't take off in Spain?
Wind power is the most established of all renewable technologies. 21.2% of peninsular electricity demand last year was covered with large wind turbines scattered throughout the Spanish geography, according to Spanish Electricity Network (REE). Several reasons explain this lack of development compared to its "big brother" the solar panel. The launch of a mini wind system in a network isolated environment, with all its necessary components (turbine, generator, battery charger, tower, installation) requires an investment of between 5,000 and 10,000 Euros.
There are other factors that unlike great windmills, mini windmills comes out as a looser and that is due to its peculiarities which have not been taken into account; its technology has not reduced costs, unlike solar panels; installation in urban environments is more complicated, taking into account physical obstacles, noise, or turbulence that these windmills may cause; some installations have been carried out without a good preliminary study and have not met expectations; and most users do not know how to install one of these systems.
The main obstacle is the current legal legislation.
However, the main obstacle is the current regulation for the sector. The head of the mini wind section of APPA explains that although it is legal to install wind systems at home, in practice it is unfeasible because two years ago circulated a draft Royal Decree very unfavourable to private consumption which included disproportionate fines if any surplus energy is added to the existing electric net, complex procedures, etc. Some say it is a lure to paralyze the photovoltaic and mini wind power, exerted by the large electric companies. I do not know if it's true, but it has almost completely paralyzed the sector. So that installations are only installed in isolated environments because they will pay anything, having no choice, or because it has great ecological consciousness.
In short, the experts consulted indicate the need for a pro-consumption regulation, as major country of the world. Britain and the United States, with more manufacturers and turnover, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Israel, Canada and Japan lead the widespread use of mini wind energy.
There are three factors that may change this situation: a rise in energy cost, a location with enough wind and a reduction in the cost of the technology.
An evaluation sector must be developed capable of studying existing installations, so that users would know with rigour how much energy can get and how much it will cost them. Simple programmes are being developed to see the viability of an installation before purchasing.
Major Spanish companies of mini wind energy
Among these companies, which develop both mini vertical and horizontal axis wind turbines, (in alphabetical order) Argolabe; Baiwind; Bornay; Kliux; Norvento; and Sumelec.