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  • Eveready Group

Small wind energy, reducing grid reliance

Date: 30 November 2012

Improved reliability thanks to financial investment, technology developments and greater awareness, has surged the interest and popularity of high-end renewable energy solutions. As the green agenda fills our newspapers and the cost-efficiency of using renewable sources is realised, on-grid solutions are growing in popularity. But for homes, businesses and farms not connected to the grid, reliability and efficiency are key.

Each farm has different requirements – just as homes have a different requirement to commercial properties. Different farming applications need a different solution and capacity. The average South African home consumes between 10kWh and 60kWh a day. Farming premises will use on average 150kWh a day to several Mwh a day, obviously dependent on the operation‘s size. You need to consider your location (whether there is sufficient wind), energy requirements, the location topography as well as available space, before you install the correct small wind solution.

In a typical installation it is important to determine the availability of wind resources at the location. Coastal areas usually have very high average wind speeds throughout the year. In cases like these, a wind-only solution is the most appropriate option. If you are located inland, the wind isn’t always so prevalent, therefore a hybrid solutions is more suitable, for example a mix of wind and solar. Using your location co-ordinates, renewable energy providers can advise on the best solution for you location and needs.

Multiple turbine installation becomes a possibility when sufficient land is available allowing more energy to be tapped from the renewable source. If this is not available, the farm will be partly supplemented by the wind energy input reducing the total energy consumption from the grid if connected.

Many do not have the luxury to decide to be either off-grid or grid tied, but if you have the chance to make the decision, there are some things to consider. In an off-grid situation the wind turbine will be connected through its controller to a battery bank. The battery bank will be connected to the electrical supply for emergency back-up, or consistently to buildings whilst having back-up energy available in the case where there is a break in grid supply.

If the system is grid tied, the turbine through its controllers will be connected to a grid tie inverter, which will supply the required frequency and voltage energy into the property’s electrical grid. In the case where additional energy is required to supplement the wind turbine energy, the energy will be supplied from the national or local grid. Small wind turbines do not only have to power farmhouses or buildings, Kestrel’s small wind turbines are also helping to pump water. Using electricity generated by wind is more effective than the previous mechanical solution, generating up to twice the water volume and will efficiently deliver water from a wind speed as low as there meters per second.

Mr Leon Gouws, director at Kestrel, said this of its solution: “We have installed water pumping solutions across South Africa at a number of farms, which are successfully using the system to deliver water. And versus the traditional solution, it can be placed where wind availability can be maximised and not over the borehole.”

The South African government sees the “green economy” as the newest economy to move into. Thus, as further investment is made, the awareness of renewable energy benefits not only the bank statements or the reduced carbon footprint, but also the reliability; as whispers are heard of power shortages and us each having to reduce the load on the grid. It is therefore empowering to know you are self-reliant, independent and leading the pack when it comes to renewable energy.

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