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Environmental and Financial Benefits:

Energy security:

Energy security is typically defined as 'the uninterrupted physical availability of energy at a price which is affordable, while respecting environment concerns'. It cannot be predicted how much fossil fuels will increase in price but now that 'peak oil' has come and gone its certain they will inevitably rise in cost. However, investing in microgeneration of any kind allows these variable costs to be accurately predicted many years into the future.

The current price of electricity per unit is €0.183 and oil is $110 per barrel. It is independently estimated that within 5 years oil will reach $200/barrel. Electricity prices track oil prices directly and so it is projected that the cost per unit could reach €0.334.

According to a Bord Gáis report written in 2011, fuel prices have risen by 57% since August 2009 resulting in the increases we have just experienced. Microgeneration fixes your energy costs and will become more competitive as electricity prices increase.

"The world's deteriorating ecology poses as great a danger to mankind today as did the nuclear standoff between the superpowers at the height of the Cold War."

Mikhail Gorbachev, former premier, USSR.

A domestic or small business wind system should be viewed as a long-term environmentally beneficial investment, as it may be number of years into its life cycle before it gives payback in financial terms. The value of electricity produced will depend on the corresponding cost of mains electricity during the life of the turbine.

While prices for electricity are currently decreasing, the cost of electricity to the consumer has risen substantially in the previous 5 years (by over 50%). While the price of oil has now fallen sharply, from its record highs during the summer of 2008, there are no guarantees about future prices. The price of electricity in Ireland is heavily dependent on the price of fossil fuels (more than 80% of electricity generated in 2007 was fossil fuel sourced) and it is expected that the long term trends in fuel prices will continue upward.

Why does the price of oil matter to an electricity customer? Because the cost of other fuels, such as natural gas, tracks the price of oil and as a result so too does the price of electricity in Ireland. In 2007, nearly 60% of our electricity was generated by burning natural gas. So a wind turbine can provide some stability to a portion of electricity costs and is likely to become more competitive if electricity prices increase again or if there is a carbon tax introduced which is applied to mains electricity.

"We all moan and groan about the loss of the quality of life through the destruction of our ecology, and yet each one of us, in our own little comfortable ways, contributes daily to that destruction. It's time now to awaken in each one of us the respect and attention our beloved mother deserves."

Ed Asner, former president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Many users of small scale wind turbines are not motivated solely by financial concerns. Many are attracted by having an independent, local source for a portion of their energy needs. Others are concerned with the environmental impact of conventional electricity generation.

Conventional thermal power generation inefficiently consumes valuable finite resources- for good. Other than carbon dioxide, by-products of the generation process, depending on the fuel used and mitigating measures employed, can include acid rain causing compounds, irritant particulate emissions, mercury emissions and ash. Wind generated electricity displaces energy from the grid when it is consumed on-site.

Power generation is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland.

In 2007 Ireland produced more than 80% of its electricity by consuming fossil fuel resources, (gas 55%, oil 6%, CHP 4% and coal 18%) the vast majority of which had to be imported. On average in 2007, each unit (kWh) of grid electricity consumed had an associated carbon dioxide production of approximately 538g.

The associated carbon production varies depending on the time of day and the suite of generation plant which is brought onto the system by the system operator. But in simplistic terms, for every 2 units of electricity produced by the domestic wind turbine over 1 kg of CO2 emissions could be avoided.

"Our world has enough for each person's need, but not for his greed."

Mahatma Gandhi, political and ideological leader.

There are of course emissions associated with the manufacture, transportation and erection of a wind turbine but a correctly sited quality unit will be able to repay these in a reasonable time. Equally an ill-suited, badly sited, poor quality turbine may never produce the energy which has gone into its production, not to mention paying back in economical terms. For instance roof mounted turbines in built up areas can prove to be purely ornamental rather than productive or beneficial to the environment or the owner. They can in fact increase energy consumption as the occupant is misguided into thinking they are producing electricity at a rate which allows them to increase their own consumption without impact on the environment or on their bill.

A portion of the electricity produced by power stations is lost during transmission and distribution over long distances. The losses occur in transformers and in the wires. Energy generated closer to where it is consumed will reduce the total energy losses on the system.

Wind turbines are often the most cost effective energy option in remote off-grid areas where it may be very expensive to connect to the grid. Battery storage can be added to the off-grid system so that power may be available on demand.

"My daughter came to me after school one day. She was eight and had been learning about climate change and how pollution was killing polar bears and the planet. She said "Daddy, what are we doing to help?". I explained how we were building wind farms and inventing electric cars but she said "No Daddy... what are WE doing to help?". Shamefully, I didn't have a good answer."

Richard Kingston, founder/CEO of Kingston Renewable Energy and developer of the Fluxy wind turbine.