Wind energy, currently the cheapest renewable energy source, involves the generation of electricity from the naturally occurring power of the wind.
The Optimal Stand‐Alone Power System
Many remote towns or sparsely populated areas are not serviced by the main power grid. Or are transportable vehicles like sea vessels, caravans, etc. Power must be generated locally using engine generators powered by conventional fuels, such as diesel. However, the transportation and storage of diesel fuel can be expensive and the supply is not always reliable. Therefore, diesel generators are best used on a short-term basis or for emergency purposes. Solar and wind resources are good alternatives to provide more consistent year-round energy power. Solar and wind are also the most available renewable energy resources on earth, and many remote areas have sufficient supply of both.
The sun is the source of all energy on earth. Wind is a form of solar energy and is caused by the uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. On much of the earth, wind speeds are low in the summer, when the sun shines brightest and longest. The wind is stronger in winter, when less sunlight is available to produce electricity from solar cell technology. Wind speeds may also be lower during the morning and midday when sunlight is strong, but increase in the evening when electricity from solar cell technology is less available. Because the peaks for wind flow and sunlight often occur at different times of the day and year, wind energy and solar energy can complement each other. A hybrid solar-wind power system can balance out the ever-fluctuating solar and wind resources and is more likely to produce power when you need it.
The Best Combination of Technology
Hybrid solar-wind generators produce power from both solar and wind energy sources. Hybrid solar-wind regulators, which are also known as hybrid solar-wind charge controllers, regulate the charging current of solar panels and wind turbines, before it is stored in battery banks. Inverters are then used to convert direct current (DC) electricity stored in the battery banks to alternating current (AC). The advantages of solar systems are their reliability and low operating costs, but they are relatively expensive to manufacture.
Wind power generators use a wind turbine to convert wind energy into electricity. Similar to solar power systems, charge controllers are used to regulate the charging current before it is first stored in battery banks, and inverters are then used to convert DC back into AC. The advantages of wind power systems are their low manufacturing and operating costs, but their reliability is sometimes lower due to the fluctuation of air flow.
Non-combined solar systems or wind systems can be affected by variations in the weather and the season, resulting in inconsistent power generation. The fluctuations could lead to batteries being under-charged for a long period of time, causing the lifecycle of the batteries to be shortened. Since solar power and wind power can complement each other as energy sources, a hybrid solar/wind power system will optimize the use of these two natural energy resources for needed power supply. Manufacturing costs of hybrid systems can be reduced because the same battery bank and inverter can be used for both the solar and the wind generators.