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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Generating interest in wind power
By Alison Freeman
BBC News, London

Donnachadh McCarthy and the wind turbine at his Peckham home
Donnachadh McCarthy hopes other people will follow suit
When Donnachadh McCarthy decided he wanted to generate his own electricity using a wind turbine, he almost fell at the first hurdle.

The planning application was initially refused after a neighbour objected - over what turned out to be an unnecessary concern.

"She said it was going to kill her cat," he said, "Which it wasn't.

"She also thought it was going to be 2.4m which is almost double the size."

Mr McCarthy reassured the neighbour that it would not harm any pets or wildlife and asked Southwark Council officers to change their minds.

"They said they were concerned that if they granted me permission they'd have to let everyone who wanted a turbine have one.

"But I said 'good, then we'll all be doing something to combat global warming'."

'Another way'

A second amended application was finally given the go ahead soon after - making Southwark the first London borough to approve plans for a domestic model to be installed - and his neighbours seem more than happy.

Jean, who lives next door, calls Mr McCarthy "an inspiration".

"It's not only for his own benefit - he wants to prove to others that there is another way," she said.

The turbine was installed on the gable wall of Mr McCarthy's terraced house in Peckham, south London, on Monday, and should generate up to 600 kilowatt hours every year.

There will be a whole forest of domestic turbines throughout the country - it will be so normal to have one on your home
Donnachadh McCarthy

The author says that will be sufficient to light his home.

Mr McCarthy recently installed a solar-powered water heating system, which can power itself for 70% of the time and the wind turbine should also make up the 30% shortfall.

Planning permission was granted three years ago, but it has taken him some time to find a machine small and quiet enough for the urban environment.

His choice was developed by a company called Eclectic Energy which makes turbines for yachts and decided to expand into the domestic domain as demand grew.

The turbine itself costs 1,000 but an inverter which turns the wind-generated electricity from DC to AC so that it can be used in the home costs a further 1,000.

Smaller projects

He believes naturally falling costs will encourage people to follow his example but more monetary incentives will speed that process up.

The Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) renewable energy grant programme Clear Skies is coming to an end and Mr McCarthy is concerned the scheme that replaces it will leave those wanting to install systems in their homes out in the cold.

A DTI spokesman said it was not clear how the new grant system would work but there would be some money put aside for smaller projects.

Preparations being made for the turbine's installation
The turbine has been put on the side of Mr McCarthy's house
Renewable energy charity Sustainable Energy Action (SEA) will be monitoring the output of the wind turbine.

Steve Connor of Sea said: "I'm really excited about the turbine. It's obviously a ground-breaking area and we want to see how useful it can be in an urban environment."

Southwark Council says it too hopes the installation will show other people that green energy is not just the domain of big companies.

Mr McCarthy hopes more Londoners will follow suit and that looks likely with Mr Connor saying a recent survey showed that more than 12% of those living in the city would like their own wind turbine.

Mr McCarthy said: "This is what everybody is going to have in the future. There will be a whole forest of domestic turbines throughout the country - it will be so normal to have one on your home."



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