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A symbol of clean renewable energy, a bird killer, a blot on the landscape. I have heard all of these phrases used when referring to wind turbines. In fact, I haven't met one person who doesn't have an opinion on wind farms. Nothing can pit one neighbor against the other than the erection of turbines on a near-by farm.

Love them or hate them wind turbines are here to stay and if you don't have them in your area yet they probably aren't far away.

Have you ever wondered how much money is made from having them on a piece of otherwise useless land?

If you're a farmer, or have a large plot of land, you may already have thought of putting wind turbines on your land and wondered how much you could make from doing so. In a time of uncertainty in farming, we have to keep our options open. What once was a viable idea for crops or livestock changes every year. Having a wind farm on your land can be very profitable. For those who are a little unclear of the procedure, you are not responsible for the turbines, you're just leasing the land to the company who will erect and maintain the turbines.


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Monthly amount paid for wind turbines in the USA

According to Wind Industry website the prices can vary depending on size, output, and location. The amounts below are for the US and the payment can be based on the price of each turbine, a cut of the revenue from the energy it generates or its megawatt capacity.

These are ballpark figures and are per month.

  • $4-$8,000 per turbine
  • $3,000 to $4,000 per megawatt of capacity
  • 2-4% of gross revenues
Obviously the larger the turbine, the more you make. Also if you have wind year round you will make more depending on which option is available to you.

Wind farms in UK

When I lived in the UK, there were many wind turbines in the area. Some of the farmers there were making an excellent income from them. Although they are under contract not to reveal the amount they are paid, one farmer who has installed turbines on his land has gone public and claims to make a profit of £80,000 a year from his largest turbines.

As most farmers know, the weather, the buyers and equipment failures all seem to conspire against the farmer making a living. Is it any wonder many farmers are seeing wind farms as a good option?

Installing wind turbines on your farm

As a landowner you may think all your Christmases have come at once and leasing all or some of your land for the erection of wind turbines is the answer, but don't be too hasty. There are other things to consider.

Without a doubt the most important thing you should do is get a lawyer who will check that everything is in order as you will be signing a contract leasing your land for many years. There are some sad tales on the internet of farmers who only saw the money on offer and signed a contract without consulting a lawyer first.

Once you have a lawyer on board, then you can proceed as any documents will be as you want them. I have read of one farmer who had much of his fertile topsoil removed during the construction of the turbines. Of course we all know that without topsoil, farming activities are going nowhere. Have a designated area where all the topsoil can be deposited for later use once the turbines and roadways are up and erected on your farm. This is something which should be clearly stated in the contract.

Changing Public Views of Turbines

I live in Brazil and now we wind turbines on two sides of us. When we moved here there were a few some distance away and only occasionally could we hear thatwhoop whoop whoop of the blades. A couple of years ago, there were more installed and these are much closer and cause more disturbance.

Having lived in the UK, where wind turbines are discussed with venom, unless you're the person getting paid, I had my concerns. The truth is, wind turbines on farms or in the countryside suffer from bad publicity in some countries, the UK being one of them. It is estimated by some estate agents that if your home is near them, there will be a 20-40% drop in the value of your home.Quite frankly I think this is scaremongering. It is no different than being near a train line, a busy road, or factory. I would definitely have no problem living near turbines in the future. I believe people's viewpoint will change as more and more are installed.

In fact, a house I looked at in Denmark, proudly stated that their (mains electricity) was virtually all from wind power. So there are two sides of the coin, it is all about spin, if you ask me. Denmark was one of the first countries to embrace wind power as a source of clean energy. It is estimated that by 2020 Denmark will be producing 50% of its electricity from wind.

I have now become accustom to seeing them and I know that it is a much cleaner way of producing electricity than coal fired power stations and safer than nuclear

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Effects of vibration, shadows, and air pressure of wind turbines

Although we hear noise from them, it isn't often as when it is windy, we hear only the wind in the trees. If the wind is at a higher elevation (near the blades) and we have no wind we can hear them. One thing which I don't like is the shadow they cast first thing in the morning. It causes a flicking light, similar to driving down a lane with leafless trees in winter. This however is only for a short time in the morning as the sun is rising and then nothing for the rest of the day.

There are regulations in place regarding the distance from houses. Part of this is due to the constant but unperceived vibration they make. I have read this could cause problems to the bones. As far as I know this has not been extensively researched. It is still something to consider if planning to have them on your farm or homestead. Sand, which we have, will absorb more of this vibration than other soil types.

Another point to consider is the change in air pressure for those who live near-by. In some people this can cause headaches, depression, and insomnia. I can say that neither I nor my husband have noticed this whatsoever.

One article I've read, relating to wind turbines and bats, said that it was this change in air pressure which caused the lungs of bats to literally explode without showing any external signs of injury. Yet again, this is something which needs further research.

Installing wind turbines

Now that you know this, I will tell you I have known people in the UK who have had turbines on their land and they made more from those than they did from their farming activities. Where I live in Brazil, the wind turbines are on sand dunes which would have grown nothing and were basically considered to have no value. The person who owns the land has capitalized nicely on this otherwise worthless land.

The process begins with the company installing a tower to test the wind strength. This could be up for some time for them to get an accurate reading. After all it is a big investment for them and they want to make sure it is a wise one.

The company will determine if the area is suitable not just for one, but for several as it will be more cost effective for them. Depending on how many your land could take, you could in essence earn your entire income from this activity.

In fact, many entrepreneurs, have bought land solely for this purpose. What looked like wasteland to others, does in fact have a value if it can be leased to companies for the erection of turbines to generate wind power.

The Controversy With Wind Turbines

If you want to get someone's blood boiling, bring up the subject of wind turbines. As I have said previously, unless you are the person being paid, very few people will have positive things to say on the subject.

I partly think this is jealousy that someone, a neighbor or a near-by landowner, has made money. Some say it is sour grapes but I think it goes beyond this. I believe in a small community that if one person begins to feel depressed and starts pointing the finger at the turbines as being the cause, everyone jumps on board. Soon you have a whole village who were healthy blaming all their illnesses on the newly installed wind farm.

As they say, misery loves company

Subsidies for Wind Farms

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I would like to report that this surge in interest for a clean energy source is due to a change of mindset of people but that would be false. It all comes down to greed and subsidies which are being offered.

In fact a few years ago, in the UK it was likened to the wild west days of gold fever. Sales people aggressively canvassing farmers to get them to sign-up for a deal before it was too late.

Now as government subsidies are cut, older wind farms which have come to the end of their active lifespan (20-25 years) are not being renewed. The wind is still there of course, but as the gravy train of money has dried up, so too has the interest in meeting the European or international targets for clean energy

Are wind turbines safe?

You only have to look on You tube to see videos of turbines falling, burning or knocking birds out of the sky. All of these things do occur. However, there were arguments against the horseless carriage when it was being proposed. Who wants to give up their car?

One incident I personally know about happened in the UK in the village where we lived. Overnight, the temperatures dropped below freezing and water had frozen on the blades. When the propellers began spinning, this sent a huge icicles through the air. These shards, some which were 2 feet long, were landing on houses and in near-by gardens. People took cover as the 80 meter high turbine hurled frozen daggers through the air for a few hours.

 
 
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One of the ideas we considered here on our farm was a quad bike course. We live about 40 miles from the capital city of our state and at the weekend our little coastal town fills with tourists from the city. Many of these are well off and looking for a little adventure. Location as I have said is a crucial factor in what activities your farm can support. Here's a few more items which need to be taken into account before committing to a decision about your farm.


  • Location: 
  • Spending power of  visitors
  • Suitability of land
  • Neighbors
  • Legal requirements
  • Accessibility


Let's look at each of these in turn. Our location as I said was ideal as we get domestic tourists every weekend, year round. We are near the main road so are easily found.


The spending power of the potential customer in our area is high. Here in Brazil there is an emerging middle class who are looking for creative and new ways to spend their money. Also during the international tourist season which usually runs from June-December there are tourists who range from 20-50 who are adventure seekers. Although they would have to rent a quad bike which in itself could turn into a money maker.

Suitability of land: The suitability of our land is ideal as we have sand dunes to the rear, undulating land and lakes. You can imagine a well defined track with dips and turns cutting in and out of the lakes.


Neighbors: We are lucky to have great neighbors but the noise levels would have to be considered as 20 quad bikes or off road motorcycles create quite a din. That said, it would likely only be a weekend business and we already have quad bikes most Sundays on the sand dunes behind our house.


Legal requirements: Where I live in Brazil, they have a very laissez-faire attitude to business unless people complain. Still in most developed countries you would need permission to run this type of business.


Accessibility; We are only a short distance off the main road which is better as many people even with GPS don't like to travel too far out of their way.


Once you have decided if your land would be suitable with proper tracks and if there would be an interest then begin to look at the other hurdles. There is no sense in spinning your wheels if the customer base just isn't there.


Now, assuming that customers will come to where you are, let's look at the lay of the land. What could you do to make it more enjoyable for those with quads or off road motorcycles? Give them tracks and obstacles to go around, and over and you could be onto a winner.

If you know someone who is an enthusiast into this type of motor sport, get them onboard and ask their advice. If this plan comes to fruition then he/she will bring their friends.  



Once you have taken all the ideas into consideration, before you start any other work on it, you should contact your council to see what, if any permissions you need. Here it would be a good idea to have an outline of what you plan to do, what facilities you will be offering and how many you intend to have on your property at any one time. 

You should also look at other businesses in your area to use these as precedents for your venture. Are there other 'noisy' or busy places near-by? How do they handle the extra traffic?

If you can anticipate the questions or objections they city council may have, they will see that you have looked into this thoroughly. That said, there are some people who hate to see entrepreneurs succeed, don't ask me why. If possible, seek out those who are either interested in your type of venture or open to new ideas.


 

Once you have obtained the necessary outline permission, you can begin designing your course. This doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be challenging. Have clearly defined areas for the route so the bikers stay within those boundaries. Over time you can alter or add in features.




Other additions to consider once you have a clientele is a place to eat or even a catering van. This can either be run by yourself or you can rent this pitch to someone who has a catering truck. Either way you will be bringing in extra money to your farm.




Consider renting out motorcycles or quads for use on your course. Although the outlay is great, you will be earning this back many times over.


 

 

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