Technology

Renewable Energy Technology

It is not uncommon for a project to be made up of two or more technologies which can compliment each other on a given site and can reinforce the generation capabilities of each. a very common example of this is to use a small wind turbine in conjunction with a PV array, with the PV providing energy during the day whilst the sun shines and the turbine producing more overnight when the wind is typically stronger. As well as a daily cycle, this is also a seasonal cycle with long calm days in the summer balanced with shorter windier days during the winter.

Here we can look at some of the more common technology options for on-site power generation using renewable energy.

Wind Turbines

Quite simply, a wind turbine captures the energy in the wind and coverts it into electrical energy. when considering a wind turbine for onsite consumption the most important figure you should look at is the Annual Energy Production (AEP). This is typically given in a table against a range of wind speeds so it is equally important to understand the wind speed at your site and your energy consumption pattern.

MEA can help you to understand your need and to understand the options available to you. one of the question we often get asked is about the difference between Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT) and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT), and our answer is simply that they are designed for different situations.

We are only really going to look at small and medium turbines here, on sites with exceptionally large usage then its possible that turbines over 1MW in size can be used but for most applications a single or multiple turbines between 1kW and 250kW are appropriate

HAWT

Pros 

  • Better energy conversion factors

  • Simple designs and maintenance requirements

  • Proven design concepts

Cons

  • Requires clear laminar air flow

  • Susceptible to yaw issue

Applications

HAWT are best used in areas with open space all around. typical application would be; Farms, Rural industrial sites, New build with large open car parks, Large public open spaces, and dock of quay side

VAWT

Pros 

  • Less susceptible to turbulent airflow

  • Able to be placed closer to structures

  • Aesthetically pleasing

Cons

  • Lower production vs same rated HAWT

  • Increased engineering complexity 

Applications

VAWT are best used in areas with restricted open areas. Typical application would be; Low rise industrial estates, Large campus area, New build with multi story car parks, tree shielded area such as motorway service stations, crematoriums, and leisure centres or public spaces such as riverside tow paths.

Picking the right Wind Turbine

picking the right wind turbine for your application is pretty much a value judgement. By this i mean you need to decide what factors of value are most important to your project and weight them accordingly.

Financial:

When considering the financial aspect of your decision, there are only two figures you need to know, the levelised cost of electricity (LCoE), which is the whole life cost for the turbine  divided by the whole life production. and the project internal rate of return (IRR) which will allow you to compare the project to other types of financial investment. MEA can calculate both of these figures for you and more and can provide you with the financial models to help you make your decision.

Energy:

If your primary concern is the generation of green energy then your choice needs to be driven by the annual energy production. most turbine manufacturers will have these figures available and they should be verified and the calculations conforming to the international standard IEC-61400. any turbine which has been certified to MCS (UK), SWCC/NREL (USA), or any international accreditation body should be able to provide you with these figures and you can trust that they are fair and accurate and allow you to fairly compare different machines.

it is important that you also know the annual average wind speed for your site so that you can judge each machine at the level applicable to your project.

Solar PV

When people say Solar, they usually mean Solar PV, which is the Photo-Voltaic panel that convert the Suns light into electricity. 

ABOUT US

We are committed and experienced small scale renewable energy professionals looking to keep our industry alive by supporting people and business to understand and get the most out of small scale generation.

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