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In Britain, wind turbines offer homespun electricity

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"If people have a few thousand pounds in the bank making 5 percent interest, they are going to make that same rate of return installing these systems," he says. "And that's including the CO2 benefit, so there's no excuse in not doing it if you can access the capital." His total cost was about US$3,900.

With or without personal wind turbines, British citizens in urban areas are growing all too conscious of their carbon emissions. A steep "congestion charge," which was first introduced in 2003, requires that anyone driving into London pay the equivalent of $15. There is talk of a green tax on energy consumption, and homeowners and businesses alike are encouraged to take advantage of government grants to install these microgeneration wind-turbine systems.

By some measures, Britain's environmental efforts are succeeding. The United Nations reported last month that the country is only one of a small number of industrialized nations whose greenhouse-gas emissions have fallen in the past 15 years.

With the roll-out of Britain's low-carbon buildings program last May, more homeowners are exploring the possibility of applying for government grants that will pay up to 30 percent of the cost for wind turbines and solar water heaters and up to 50 percent for solar panels. Wind turbines are the second most-sought-after grant. More than 1,300 homeowners across Britain are now pursuing grants. That translates into more than $2.5 million in grant money.

Renewable-energy industry analysts are encouraged.

"The figure of 1,300 is double the figure of currently installed wind turbines in the UK," says Georgina Wong, an onshore wind officer for the British Wind and Energy Association, the leading renewable-energy trade association in Britain.

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