Operating a diesel microgrid? Add a wind turbine!

Microgrids are a hot topic! Instead of a centralized system, multiple microgrids will form the electricity network of the future. A microgrid is exactly what it sounds like – a small grid. It consists of multiple distributed generators (sources) and loads that can work in both grid-connected- or island-modes.

It is important to understand that a microgrid is not only a cluster of several loads and a number of sources. In many articles circulating the internet, you can read explanations of microgrids that have great added value, but are also complex systems that require a relatively big investment.

However, there are many microgrids with a relative simple configuration that already exist for many years, the diesel based microgrids.  In areas with no grid or a bad grid and a need for electricity, these diesel based microgrids were the best solution. Robust, easy to install, and easy to maintain. A big challenge however, is the fuel consumption and logistics. In most case, getting fuel to remote areas is a difficult task. Operating cost of these microgrids are therefore very high, and quite often they come with ‘hidden costs’.

It’s estimated that worldwide the installed base of diesel generators is 1,000 gigawatts (GW) where 400 GW is used for electricity in a micro- or minigrid. 250 GW of the installed diesel capacity could be hybridised into a microgrid with renewables.

In the case of a diesel based microgrid, the first step towards a renewable solution is simple. Add a wind turbine!

In the case of a diesel based microgrid, the first step towards a renewable solution is simple. Add a wind turbine! Why? Adding and connecting a Wind turbine to a diesel has been done many times before, is not ‘rocket science’. In a wind diesel microgrid the wind is used when available and the diesel is used as a backup, in case there is no wind.  Sometimes a small battery can be used to avoid having the diesel generator be on ‘standby’ all the time (for when the wind stops). Because microgrids are ‘modular’, the grid can be expanded with other renewable sources when relevant.

In St. Helena, a microgrid was developed with the WES Hybrid Wind-Diesel system. With 12 WES80 turbines, more than 40% of the island’s power requirement is now supplied by wind turbines, saving 65,000 Litres of diesel per year per turbine, meaning 780.000  Litres are saved every year!

The project in St. Helena is well known but WES is responsible for many more projects just like these all around the globe.

On the back of a napkin (and in 5 minutes) you can check if adding a wind turbine is a solution for your  situation.

Is adding a wind turbine to your diesel a solution for your situation? Checking is quick and easy: On the back of a napkin (and in 5 minutes) you can check what the cost of fuel is, and what the maintenance cost are for your diesel generator. Those two combined are your cost per kWh. Is the cost more than 0,12 dollar per kWh? Then make an inquiry for the combination of diesel and wind, to see if you can save on those costs! We of course will do the check of the windspeed on your location and help you get a more detailed grasp of the opportunity.

15 – 05 – 2018

Wind Energy Solutions, Spanbroek

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!