The economics of distributed wind projects could be looking promising as interest builds in the development of hybrid distributed energy development. The addition of wind can sweeten the financial performance of solar-plus-storage projects, but the calculation is technically and economically complex. That’s one reason the latest release of HOMER Grid incorporates a wind module. XANT encourages users to model diverse system configurations and decide whether wind is a potential fit. The results might be surprising, and the software will help weigh the complex variables involved in determining the best combination of components.
Medium Wind is Poised for Growth
In recent decades, economies of scale have unambiguously favored large turbines and wind farms, and “big wind” has grown rapidly. But, medium scale wind manufacturers operate with a completely different business model – the behind the meter market, where energy generated by the wind turbine is consumed on site. Since US incentives for small/medium wind have been recently restored (through a February 2018 Congressional appropriations bill), manufacturers and project developers for this segment of the industry are more optimistic about their prospects. The same is true in Europe, where some countries are considering feed-in tariffs and other incentives for small wind. Now it’s easier to see that there are several important economic niches for small and medium-scale wind.
Several experts are predicting steady expansion of the small / medium-scale wind market. Navigant Research reported in 2017 that the global installed capacity of small and medium wind turbines was expected to grow from 176.4 MW in 2017 to 446.0 MW in 2026.
Medium Wind Will Play a Key Role in XANT Hybrid Systems
Alex De Broe of XANT also reminds us that while the installation and investment costs of wind are higher than solar, wind is more productive. “A wind turbine will produce significantly more electricity than solar per installed kilowatt of capacity” he says. The median capacity factor of onshore wind is 38% while solar PV is only 20%. “Solar PV has gained so much momentum that people have lost sight of the advantages of other renewable-energy technologies,” says De Broe. “We don’t see wind and PV as competing technologies in the distributed-generation space. Rather they are complementary technologies to enable – together with storage and DSM – an all-renewable electricity supply.” XANT targets commercial and industrial customers who want to produce their electricity on site. One example is a water treatment plant where the settling tanks have taken up most of the land. In that situation, when the land area is scarce, combined with a 24/7 electricity need, a wind turbine is the perfect solution.
Many of XANT’s other customers already have their roofs covered with PV panels and they want to increase their onsite renewable energy generation by integrating wind. One large European company has an industrial site where dredging ships are docked. They want to showcase their sustainability and ultimately aim to be carbon neutral. They also want the capability to disconnect from the grid. Another XANT customer is a Tesla second-hand car dealer who has a 100kW PV array on the roof, a 400kWh battery, and a 95kW XANT turbine; there’s also a neighboring cold storage facility that has huge electricity demands, but that can buffer its consumption by slightly raising the temperature. De Broe is using HOMER Grid in these complex scenarios to model and determine the optimal system configuration for each customer.
HOMER Software Facilitates Modeling of XANT Turbines with Storage
It may seem counterintuitive, but over the course of a day, wind output produces fewer problematic peaks and valleys than solar. When the sun goes down, electricity production from large PV systems drops precipitously, causing the infamous “duck curve.” Wind, on the other hand, has a steadier production profile, at least in areas where there is a good wind resource. Wind turbines can produce energy throughout the day and night, and that’s what makes wind and solar complementary.
XANT is a manufacturer of midsize (50…500kW) turbines for the microgrid and off-grid markets. XANT turbines are designed with microgrid applications in mind and a with a special focus on remote areas and harsh operating conditions. They have Just Enough Essential Parts (JEEP!), fit in 40ft containers and can be erected without a crane. For deployment in typhoon-prone areas the turbines can be lowered to the ground, also facilitating the maintenance. XANT turbines have the capability of active power curtailment and can be equipped with integrated energy storage to allow for a high penetration rates.
The extreme simplicity, easy maintenance, silent operation and low cost of ownership make XANT turbines ideally suited for wind power on remote locations and close to the consumer.
The XANT product portfolio consist of the XANT M (100kW) and the XANT L (330kW) – commercially available in 2019- platforms. Both turbine types exist in class Ia (average wind speeds up to 10m/s) and class IIIa (7.5m/s) executions; for extremely cold areas ETR (Extended Temperature Range) versions are available.
* This article is an excerpt of a news item in the HOMER microgrid news & insights by Lili Francklyn