In last week's blog we sat down with Diffuse Energy CEO, Joss Kesby, to learn more about the Diffuse Energy backstory and the high-efficiency small wind turbine technology.
But what industry is set to benefit from this technology? And how do these efficiency gains translate into energy savings for business? Read on to find out.
Resilience. Resilience. Resilience! End users in this space have had a challenging few years, with the 2019-2020 bushfires highlighting the importance of essential services such as communications - it can really be a life or death issue.
Telecommunications were lost on some 1,400 occasions last season. In most of these cases the tower didn't burn down but the poles and wires did and the site couldn’t be accessed to deliver diesel. How do you refuel a diesel generator or provide an emergency back-up if the access road is destroyed?
Another operational challenge is ensuring sufficient battery capacity and solar PV redundancy for periods where the sun doesn't shine. This oversizing can be expensive and unnecessary. Each system is different with various kinds of hardware, generation systems, and batteries. System integration is hard, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
It feels a bit strange to make an assessment as an outsider looking in. A few things that come to mind include the impending roll-out of 5G, general uncertainty with bushfires, and covid that has put projects on pause. Interstate lockdowns have impacted worker mobility to and from project sites. Regardless of the uncertainty, it's an evergreen industry - people need access to communications and that isn’t changing anytime soon.
We are seeing a “greening of the network” as many large carriers and operators in this space have ambitious targets to be carbon neutral in the short-to-mid-term. Being 100% renewable not only saves on energy costs, it also removes supply chain issues with fuel, and risks of aging power distribution assets like old poles and wires. Distributed energy resources (DERs) will be key to achieve these goals, as we see the centralised grid model change to a distributed network. It is now cost competitive to generate energy at the point of use, rather than clearing easements to run expensive end-of-line feeders.
It’s been really exciting to see the large scale deployment of solar PV and battery storage systems. Besides the reduction in cost, this is changing consumer attitudes towards renewables - for the better!
It's not to say that all the problems have been solved, especially if you need to operate for 5+ days of inclement weather. Many operators have taken the approach of installing solar PV modules with extensive battery storage, but have reached maximum renewable penetration due to the nature of day/night solar cycles. Increasing this limit poses a challenge in that the operator would need to over specify the nameplate capacity of the solar PV modules. This thinking is not sustainable, scalable, or economically viable.
Many telco sites are space constrained either by their lease footprint or environmental restrictions that may prevent tree clearing for the deployment of solar panels (not to mention shading issues). In this situation more solar PV simply isn't an option. Small wind turbines can excel in this scenario.
Diverse and complementary means of renewable generation are now urgently needed to continue the growth of clean energy. Wind offers a lot of advantages as it unlocks a renewable source of energy that is not correlated to solar. I see it as a natural complement to solar PV, as it can generate at night or during rainy winter weather. There are other advantages too, as you may not need to oversize a solar PV/battery system to plan for adverse weather conditions, saving CAPEX.
The all important question. For these remote area power systems there are a lot of variables and system configurations at play beyond comparing to the retail price from the grid. Diffuse Energy are your wind power experts, we can work with you to provide an ROI estimate based on your specific site needs. We consider factors like diesel saved, reduced battery wear and tear, reduced CO2 emissions, less downtime and site visits when calculating your ultimate savings
The first piece of the puzzle is forecasting annual energy production based on the available site wind resource. We’re here to help you with this. Even if you just want to know what wind resource is available at your site, feel free to reach out. This often forms an early go/no-go gate for your business.
“Seamless” is a word I hate to use! But we have designed our turbine to be as plug-and-play as possible. In a technical sense the energy generated by our turbine is optimized via our MPPT controller which outputs at either 24 or 48 VDC. This can then connect to existing battery management systems - it just looks like another DC source such as from a solar PV module.
Installing our system on a tower takes around one hour. Our 1m diameter turbine is a similar size to the line of site microwave arrays, which tower riggers are familiar with. The turbine is either mounted on the top of the tower, or at the side via a stand-off. We realise no two sites are the same, and are happy to contribute our know-how and experience throughout the installation process
Off-grid energy users are some of the most innovative and willing to give new technology a try. This is because they are more dependent on energy for communication, emergency services, education and healthcare, than metropolitan areas.
For example, the first applications of solar PV systems in Australia were for remote Telstra telco systems in 1974 (well, it was Telecom Australia in those days). This kind of innovative thinking paves the way for other adopters in the market.