In the previous blog we heard from Diffuse Energy CEO, Joss Kesby, about scenarios where small wind technology currently excels.
But what about the future? What innovations lie just over the horizon? And what major opportunities do telcos have in the next 5-10 years?
Read on to find out.
Our technology was invented at the University of Newcastle, Australia - and leverages over 20 years of peer-reviewed small wind turbine research. As a team, we have close ties to the university to ensure ongoing development of our technology. Few small wind manufacturers can claim this depth of expertise. Myself and co-founder Sam Evans received PhD’s in wind energy at the uni, while James Bradley was employed as a Senior Mechanical Engineer.
Besides our market-leading efficiency, our turbine features a plug-and-play electrical system for 48 VDC telecommunication sites, provides improved safety and reduced noise during operation while being compact in size to facilitate site retrofit on existing towers.
We have engineered to international standards such as IEC61400.2 and AS1170.2 and carefully designed our turbine and chosen materials to give it a long operational life of 20+ years.
There are a number of reasons for this, most of which are centered on changing customer behaviours, and expectations. First, the world has seen the consumerization of technology to reflect the way end users utilise a service (remember back when Netflix disrupted Blockbuster?). People want a service on tap now, and business is no different. Second, many operators don’t want the operational risk of having to maintain hardware, especially if they don't have the in-house resources or expertise. Thirdly, we are seeing a shift away from CAPEX based projects - who would dare predict where battery technology will be in the next 20 years? Treating generation hardware like our Hyland 920 as OPEX is only a natural response to this.
It seems like every day there is a new piece of technology entering the telco market. Operators don't want to get stuck with old technology which is why we offer this service on a flexible basis, cancel any time for any reason. This incentivizes us to work with you during the project design and scoping stage to ensure that your site has a suitable wind resource and is appropriate for a wind turbine installation. Many customers are familiar with solar PV and batteries, but less so with wind generation technology. At Diffuse Energy we are your wind energy experts, and a subscription model allows us to be more hands on.
Carriers are moving away from owning and maintaining physical assets, which makes sense as it's a distraction from their core business. This is where a service based offering can really shine. The proliferation and adoption of renewable technology has brought about unprecedented choice in generation, storage, and system management. It can be hard to navigate this decision process as there is a lack of industry best practice and established standards, leading to analysis paralysis. Under a service model, not only is hardware outsourced, but it gives the carrier or operator unparalleled access to technical expertise and advice they otherwise have to pay a lot of money in consulting fees for.
It has been a wake up call for many who are reliant on off-grid energy. It's one of those things that nobody notices when it's working smoothly 99.9% of the time, but it only takes one freak event to expose weaknesses. As a response to the bushfires we’ve seen remote users invest in blackspot removal, shoring up grid access, or putting in strategies that maintain service continuity with fewer site visits. Site access for maintenance is becoming more problematic during covid lockdown as it's pretty hard to organise your workforce if they are spread across several states and have mobility and operational restrictions.
The next major milestone will be the total elimination of diesel from remote sites. For some sites and system architecture, renewable technology is at the point where it is cheaper to install new renewable generation + storage than it is to keep operating diesel systems. As the power efficiencies of renewable technology improves and costs reduce, the number of sites removing diesel and disconnecting from the grid will increase drastically.
Diesel generation is already on a slow inevitable death, it will go out with a whimper rather than a bang. There are already numerous sites that are operating on 100% renewables and storage. This will free up operators on a number of fronts; no ongoing diesel costs, less maintenance visits, and better resilience from natural disasters.
Beyond that, who knows! Storage technology will continue to improve, whether it’s batteries, hydrogen fuel cell or some other method. Storage is very important for when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, but the requirement for energy generation still remains, which will be filled by solar PV and wind for the foreseeable future. We already have big plans on how we can extend our product offering to provide value to our customers and it is this constant innovation that excites me most!
I’ve already spoken about the advantages that renewables can offer, so there is no need to repeat myself here. The main opportunity that springs to mind is the need for increased collaboration, particularly at sites that have co-location potential. Acquiring land, designing and constructing a tower and supplying power is no small feat. It takes a lot of time, money and exposes you to a whole array of risks. Why not share in these costs, risks, and resulting rewards? In my mind this boils down to competitive collaboration to enable more co-located sites. But, how do you collaborate with your competitors? It's easier said than done.
Well covid certainly put a spanner in the works in 2020, but you won't find us bunkering down in a corner waiting for it to go away! Not being able to travel interstate has slowed things down, the silver lining is that we can focus more on customers closer to home in the Hunter Region. We are still deploying to more and more locations each month.
We’ve got more exciting news just around the corner - i’ve already said too much! Why not stay tuned to social media and subscribe to our newsletter so you don't miss a trick.