Wind turbines and their operation
A wind turbine is a machine that can convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electrical energy. Blowing wind rotates the blades of the turbine and the mechanism in it can generate electricity upon this rotation. Wind turbines have mainly two types. Horizontal axis and vertical axis wind turbines. They both have advantages and disadvantages but horizontal axis ones are more common due to higher efficiency.
Individual wind turbines
Individual turbines can be used for various purposes ranging from supplying energy for some small electrical devices where grid connection is not possible to meeting part of the energy demand of a house, a farm or even a production facility. Individual generation systems can be standalone or grid connected. The energy output from a standalone wind turbine can be directly used. However, in grid connected systems excess electricity produced can be supplied to the national grid system. In Ireland, you will have chance to be paid for the excess electricity you supply to the grid up to 500kW. Individual wind turbines can range from as small as 50W to as large as 3 MW, depending on their purpose of use.
Individual wind turbines for domestic use
Unlike large industrial wind turbines, these turbines have smaller dimensions that make them appropriate for using in relatively smaller areas. Their capacities range from as small as 50 watts to as high as 50 kilowatts and their prices vary depending on their sizes, types and manufacturers.
What to do for installing a small wind generation system?
- First of all you have to decide whether you really need a small scale wind turbine for your energy needs. Sometimes just saving some energy can lower your bills but if the reason for considering a small turbine is being in off-grid areas you can proceed to the other steps.
- Inspect your site or your building (for rooftop turbines) to see whether it is appropriate for installing a wind turbine. You should have enough space to install a turbine without the wind being blocked by other buildings or obstacles.
- Determine your energy needs. Your utility bills will probably be your best references.
- See if the place you will install your turbine is windy enough. You can always find wind measurement data in wind energy associations' websites for your area.
- Depending on your energy requirement and the wind potential in your area, decide the capacity and type of the turbine you will need.
- Your small scale wind system is expected to have a ROI period of maximum fifteen years. Economic lifetime of a small wind turbine without changing the main elements is estimated to be about twenty years and proper maintenance will increase this. However, maintenance needs of small wind turbines are expected to be minimal.
- Get any permits required in your area.
- You will probably need a contractor for erection, assembly, electrical connections of your wind turbine. However, if your turbine is micro scale, you can do these jobs by yourself as well. You can find domestic scale wind turbines and also 400W or 1 kW self installed turbines and accessories on windturbines.ie.
Individual wind turbines for industrial uses, i.e. factory sites
Turbines for industrial uses have capacities between 500kW to 3 MW. You will be able to generate electricity for wind speeds between 3 m/s and 25 m/s. For times that the wind is not blowing, one can still get electricity from the grid. This will result in additional revenue in addition to your reduced electricity bills.
Steps towards a wind turbine installation in your factory site:
The steps that should be made for installing an industrial scale wind turbine are approximately the same as those for installing a domestic turbine. The only difference is that they require more expertise. So it would be a good idea to take a turnkey service from an expert company in order not to experience any problems. The stages for a turbine installation are outlined below:
- Wind Measurement: As your annual electricity generation depends mainly on wind speed, this step is of vital importance to be able to forecast your energy production. You can never know what you will generate without knowing what you have in hand.
- Feasibility studies: This will be a detailed study to let you know whether your proposed system will be a feasible project or not.
- Grid connection studies: This step assesses grid connection possibilities for your proposed wind turbine.
- Permission: Planning and installation of your wind turbine will require some permits on planning stage and during installation. Failure to get these permits may result in legal enforcement.
- Project budget planning: What you will need to spend for your wind turbine project from beginning to the end is an important item in any kind of planning for business.
- Procurement, commissioning and installation: All your equipment and staff needs for a turnkey project.
- Post-sales services: Issues like warranty, technical service, and maintenance.