Five steps to 100% renewable energy in an off-grid situation

With the dealine aproaching set at the Paris conference, we are eagerly waiting to see our country fulfil its emission reduction targets. Many countries are still way behind on schedule. While this has captured the public’s attention across the world, local governments have been quietly leading the way—pushing ambitious climate action plans that will bring about empower communities and wean area’s completely off of fossil fuelfired energy generation.

1.  Understand the business case

Recent concerns of global warming and the costs of diesel have led to the increasing use of renewable sources for electricity generation. If renewable energy is used then the cost of diesel fuel to run the generators can be greatly reduced.

Replacing the costly diesel with a renewable power supply can be a very interesting business case on islands, remote locations, mining sites, water treatment plants, desalination plants, irrigation systems, resorts, for power utilities, farms, agricultural industry and temporary power supply for extensive waterworks projects or defence. All without or diminishing the carbon footprint.

It is also important to understand in an early stage if there are any potential showstoppers. What is the legislation, do you need any permits and what are the lead-times. A risk assessment should start as early as possible to avoid issues during the process.

2.  Define an off-grid power system

An off-grid power system is a power supply system that is not connected to the wider electricity grid.  Off-grid power systems are generally located in remote areas where connection to an existing electricity grid is either not practical or too costly because of the significant distance to connect to the electricity grid.

Off-grid power systems come in a variety of configurations depending on the requirements of the power system. Traditionally off-grid power systems have consisted of one or more diesel generators and depending on the size and configuration batteries for energy storage. Electricity generated from off-grid power systems is relatively expensive compared to existing generation due to the high cost of diesel fuel.

3.  Choose your renewable energy source(s)

Renewable energy sources commonly include wind power, hydro power, solar power and biodiesel.

Wind Power: Wind turbines are a clean and renewable energy source which makes an environmentally friendly method of generating electricity. Wind power is generally one of the lower cost renewable energy generation methods, this is one reason why there has been considerable growth in the wind power market.

Hydro Power: Hydropower is a renewable source of energy which uses the force or energy of moving water to generate power. Hydro power, or ‘hydroelectricity’, is generated when falling water is channelled through water turbines. Hydropower is the most advanced and mature renewable energy technology, and provides some level of electricity generation in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Solar Power: Solar energy is ‘generated’ by converting solar radiation from the sun into electrical energy utilising photovoltaic (PV) panels. When solar radiation incidents a piece of silicon an electrical charge is created this is the process by which PV panels can be used to generate renewable electricity. Solar energy is an intermittent renewable energy that fluctuates with the cloud cover and exhibits seasonal changes.

Bio Diesel: Biodiesel is a significantly lower carbon intensity substitute for traditional hydrocarbon based diesel fuels, such as oil.

4.  Combine your system with energy storage

Often off-grid power systems include a combination of electricity generation sources and/or a large battery bank to ensure they always have electricity even when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.

Energy needs to be stored to allow energy supply at all times of the day regardless of weather conditions that affect renewable energy generation. For example solar power is available only when the sun is shining and having energy storage would allow this power to be used when needed. Energy storage potentially allows greater penetration of renewable sources into the electricity grid instead of limiting wind farm output this excess energy can be diverted to storage.

5.  And … ACTION!

Successful, renewable energy development is built on properly understanding and managing risks at every stage of the process.

Renewable energy development projects need to balance many objectives. Each project will have its own particular engineering, environmental, social, economic and commercial goals.

Whether driven by the need to access funding, gain surety for investment or achieve world-class sustainability standards, the requirement is greater than ever to balance these goals with a true commitment to renewable power development and operation.

We can help you set up a business case for your specific conditions.

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24 October, 2017

Wind Energy Solutions, Spanbroek

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