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Small wind turbine installation to double during 2008

Small wind turbine installation to double during 2008

Despite high-profile criticism of their effectiveness, demand for microturbines is soaring and is expected to continue to grow next year

The UK is set to install twice as many small wind systems in 2008 than it did in 2007, according to the renewable energy trade association BWEA.

According to the BWEA Small Wind Systems UK Market Report published last week, the market for small wind systems which generate less than 50kW of power will see 7,844 installed this year, compared with just 3,459 in 2007.

The jump comes particularly in building-mounted small wind turbines as high energy prices and renewable incentives cause homeowners to look to wind power, the BWEA said.

"With large economic and export opportunities at stake, the UK is in an ideal position to support a strong manufacturing industry in a fast-growing global sector, with the potential of delivering tens of thousands of UK-based jobs," said Alex Murley, BWEA small systems manager.

The BWEA also predicts that the rapid expansion of the market will continue with 13,611 units expected to be installed in 2009.

However, Murley argued that the market would be growing faster still were the government to offer clearer guidance to local planning authorities on the circumstances under which microturbines should be approved.

"Two years after government promised to tackle this issue, industry, local authorities and consumers are still waiting for detailed planning guidance and Permitted Development Rights to be issued," he said.

In 2006, as part of the Micro-generation Strategy published by the DTI (now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) there was a commitment to address planning as a barrier to deployment.

Microturbines have been widely criticised in the press for failing to deliver expected levels of energy, most famously when Conservative leader David Cameron attempted to install one.

However, the industry has maintained that small-scale turbines can generate significant levels of energy when installed in the right locations. The BWEA estimates that under such circumstances a typical small wind turbine will recoup its value within five years of installation.

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