The main objective of the SWTOMP project is the promotion, development and implementation of the utilization of small and medium size wind turbines for isolated applications and for connection to weak grids, including the optimization of small/medium-scale wind turbines to meet local wind regimes and regional infrastructure requirements.
The specific challenges of the project are:
- The optimization of two small wind turbines specifically designed for two locations, one with tropical conditions (high temperature, strong hurricanes, warmer/humid climates, atmospheric particles, and lightning strikes) and the other for a site with strong winds and very cool climate (for example for sites in the Patagonia). The designs will be adapted to meet both local weather conditions and regional infrastructure requirements.
- New methodology for the assessment of wind resource for SWT. The lack of methodologies that, in an affordable and accurate way, allow the energy performance of SWT has been identified as one of the main barrier in order to increase the penetration of wind energy at community and agricultural levels. This challenge will cope with this barrier.
- The promotion of increased awareness of the potential of small/medium wind turbines at community/SME/agricultural levels worldwide.
Total duration of the Project is three years.
The world market for small wind has continued to grow: As of the end of 2013, a cumulative total of at least 870.000 small wind turbines were installed all over the world. Most of the growth happens in only three countries: China, USA and UK. This situation is a clear indication that the world market for small wind turbines is
still in its infancy stage. (WWEA –2015 Small Wind World Report). In most countries you can at least find a handful of small wind turbines, but the vast majority of these countries are far from market size which would enable companies to reach mass production. More and better policies are imperative for making small wind a success all over the world.
Five countries (Canada, China, Germany the UK and the USA) account for over 50 % of the small wind manufacturers. There are over 330 small wind manufacturers that have been identified in the world offering complete onepiece commercialized generation systems, and an estimate of over 300 additional firms supplying parts, technology, consulting and sales services. The production of small wind remains concentrated in few world regions: in China, in North America and in several European countries. Developing countries continue to play a minor role in small wind manufacturing.
In contrast to large turbines, SMWT tend to operate in wind conditions that are highly variable in wind direction, wind speed, turbulence, wind shear, etc. These specificities have an impact on the aerodynamic design, electromechanical drive train, structural strengths of the materials, etc. Furthermore, a good understanding of these specificities allows performing upfront improved estimations of the energy yield. Currently, too often the promised energy yield is far above the actual energy yield due to wrong wind resource estimations as well as too optimistic power curves, and brings as a result a lack of social acceptance.
Further challenges remain on the reduction of production and installation cost which is largely determined by the design. Through the overall design choices such as modularity versus integration, ease of installation and maintenance but also by materials used for blades and generator as well as the production techniques, the
costs can be reduced significantly. The choice for production techniques widens with smaller turbine, tower and blade sizes. Additional cost savings in manufacturing and logistics can be achieved. Finally, technical solutions such as new, innovative and recyclable materials for the blades and more environmental friendly materials/solutions for the tower or the drive train (e.g. generators with no rare earth materials) as well as a better understanding of their performance exists and have shown the potential to become cost effective when it comes to production.
Social acceptance is determined by further factors including economic aspects such as costs (investment, installation, maintenance) and costeffectiveness
(energy yield as well as correspondence between predicted and actual yield) and social aspects such as value (contribution to sustainability, collective ownership).
However, in general small wind industry has already demonstrated remarkable growth in the past decade, as consumer interest was increasing and many new companies have entered the sector
Despite a market trend that leans towards a gridtied system with larger capacity, offgrid applications continue to play an important role in remote areas of developing countries. Offgrid applications include rural residential electrification, farms and remote villages, pumping systems, desalination and purification plants, telecommunication stations, commercial and industrial installations, recreational boats, pastures, etc.
There are a number of existing legal, administrative, economic and business barriers which make unfairly see the small wind turbines as a technology with a low maturity level, and therefore far away from being broadly accepted as real source of reducing the domestic or rural energy needs. However, recent experiences in
countries such as EEUU, UK and Japan, show that the implementation of National strategies for improving public acceptance, together with appropriate economic incentives, provide to the final user an important pill of confidence about some of the existing products, increasing in an important manner the level of acceptance and eventually the number of units sold in the country. More and better policies are imperative for making small wind a success all over the world.
- To promote the collaboration between several research centers involved in the development of the field of small wind energy from seven countries: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and Uruguay. Result: Network or Association
- To design, manufacture, test and certify two small wind turbines to meet local wind regimes and regional infrastructure requirements. Result: two prototypes available, specifically one for a very cool climate locations and the other for tropical environments
- Analyze the present situation of the small and medium size wind turbine market in seven different countries: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Finland, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and Uruguay. Result: report describing the state of the art in these regions
- To promote the increased of awareness of the potential of small/medium wind turbines at community/SME/agricultural levels. Result: four workshops
- To develop new and easy to use methodologies for assessment of the local resources. Result: tool implementing the methodology available
- To elaborate tutorial material for education of potential researchers, industrial technicians and installers. Result: material available
- To improve the existing standards for SWT. Result: proposal for modification of the standards.