An 18 month research project backed by the Carbon Trust has recommended that any grant scheme for small scale wind power installations should be linked to potential carbon savings.
Research carried out by the Met Office and Entec found small scale wind power was four times as productive in rural areas than urban sites due to higher wind speeds.
As a result the report said in rural locations turbines could provide cheaper electricity than the grid, but it appears that in many urban situations, roof-mounted turbines may not pay back their embedded carbon emissions.
Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Carbon Trust Innovations, said: “Small-scale wind energy is attracting growing interest, and at the Carbon Trust we are receiving increasing enquiries from organisations considering installing small turbines. It’s vital that people understand the wind resources available to them, and we hope they find the guidance in our report useful.
“As one of a number of microgeneration technologies with a role to play in our future energy supply, we also believe it is essential that government policies and public funding encourage carbon savings from small wind turbines most effectively. This is why we’re making recommendations about grant support and planning.”
The report also recommends higher height limits for stand-alone turbines should be allowed under permitted development rights. This is to help maximise the overall carbon savings of small-scale wind energy, given the sensitivity of electricity generation to height.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, said: 'Small-scale power generation like wind turbines can turn the concerned individual in to an active citizen in the fight against climate change. We are currently working to ease the planning rules for small wind turbines so more homeowners can install them with the minimum of fuss.
'The Carbon Trust's report provides useful advice on the potential of micro-wind. We will use these findings as we develop our policies to dramatically increase the amount of energy the UK generates from renewable sources.'
Cathy Durston, Head of Consulting at the Met Office, said: “With the increasing threat of climate change, it’s important we understand the sustainable energy resources available to us.
“Wind speeds vary considerably and since speed it is key determinant of power, the performance of small wind turbines is very sensitive to their location. This research has shed new light on the best locations for turbines to be installed. We hope now to use our expertise to expand this important work to other renewable energy projects.”
To view a copy of the report click here