Southwest Windpower the company that makes the most popular brands of small wind turbines in the USA has shut up shop abruptly although the products will continue to be made by other companies in future. Turbulent times for small wind worldwide, following the collapse of Proven in the UK in 2011.
It is rumoured that SMA are planning to discontinue their ‘Windyboy‘ range of inverters. SMA pioneered the use of solar inverters for small wind but there are plenty of other options available these day.
Small wind is feeling strong competition from the PV industry at present with the price of PV at rock bottom levels but how much lower can that price go? The Chinese solar PV industry that has put such pressure on the worldwide manufacture with very low prices, is now going bust. This is a good time to buy solar panels! But harder to find a grid-tied inverter manufacturer that will stay in business for long.
My opinion is that small wind turbines work best in off-grid situations, and that the recent fashion for mass producing them and installing them on poor sites for grid connection is not sustainable. New contracts for feed-in-tariffs cannot go on being available for much longer, and without them this size of turbine can never compete with multi-megawatt windfarm machines installed on windy hilltops or offshore even. But an off-grid turbine brings power where there is none, working with PV to keep the battery up and the generator down.
This survey is addressed to users, constructors and designers of locally manufactured small wind turbines (SWT) and it is part of the work conducted in the Electrical Energy systems laboratory of the National Technical University of Athens NTUA on the subject of open source hardware small wind turbines.
The main goals of the survey are on the one hand a social mapping of the network of people involved with locally manufactured small wind turbines and on the other hand a creation of a technical pool of collective knowledge on the operation and maintenance of the SWTs in question. Any kind of experience regarding the construction and operation of locally manufactured SWTs is welcome and valuable for the network.
“For whatever reason, many VAWT designers are prone to more hyperbole than most other wind turbine designers. Some claim their turbines will produce at less cost and with less impact on the environment than conventional wind turbines. Maybe such claims are due to widespread ignorance of VAWT technology or its long history.”
“FloWind’s Darrieus turbines operated for about a decade generating millions of kilowatt-hours, and in doing so delivered respectable performance until fatigue and design weaknesses led to increasing unreliability and they were removed. FloWind’s turbines, when in regular service, delivered about the same performance as nearby conventional wind turbines relative to their swept area, but performed poorly in comparison to their inflated power ratings. “
I am holding a workshop from 20th to 27th April here on Scoraig. All welcome. No special skills required. Accommodation is provided.
Saturday 20th is a traveling day and we will meet participants off the Westerbus that leaves Inverness at 17:20. Accommodation is at the cosy Scoraig bunkhouse. Departure is also by Westerbus on Saturday 27th arriving Inverness 10:25. If anyone wants to come by car that is also fine but the car will not be available on Scoraig as there is no road here.
From Sunday to Friday we will be mostly working hands-on, building a wind turbine in my workshop. I will discuss the theory quite happily but this is not a theoretical course. Nor is it really a course about wind systems (batteries, inverters, towers, etc) although we will make a tour of some of the local wind systems on Wednesday. Most electricity on Scoraig is from the wind and we are all off the grid.
See details of previous Scoraig workshops here and here with a video here and here. It’s a lot of fun.
Cost is £700 per person inclusive of food and board. If enough people come I may be able to offer some discounts for students etc. You can secure a place by sending £100 to me using Paypal or other method of your choice. Partners may be able to find accommodation here too without attending the workshop. Please ask for details.
“We are building new sets of the 4200 turbines. As you know we modified a bit the design of the frame, to suit our needs and expertise. Since we are making quite a few of them and we wish to maintain same parts for easy production and maintenance we had chosen the attached design.
“We maintain the same offset and other dimensions dimension. The only difference from your design is the tail hinge direction it is 45 deg instead of 55. We found no real difference. We just need to compensate with tail weight, and the making is simpler.
Attached are images of the parts before welding and the perspective drawings. I’m producing now a detailed production file that I can mail you once the last drawing is prepared. Some of the dimensions like yaw bearing and tail hinge are a bit different, but the design is very robust and judging from the last days it sustained some 25 avg and gusts of >35 m/s wind without a problem. The main idea behind this design is that once you drill the holes accurately, everything falls into place without any complicated alignment and tough welding. (welding is not really part of my expertise so I wanted to rely on a design that is more tolerant….)”