May 2009 Archives


I am attending the Tipperary Energy Agency training course on RETScreen

RETScreen is a tool used for PreFeasibility and Feasibility Analysis. It is developed by the Canadian government. It requires relatively little user input and calculates the technical and financial viability automatically. 

I would like to see RETScreen being used to estimate wind turbine and solar photovoltaic output and return on investment.

I have heard on the news and seen on irish websites claims of payback times for wind turbines of  8 - 12 years. These websites and company reps do not provide any data regarding the calculation or how these figures were derived.

Will these companies who state payback in 10 years, refund the cost of the turbine if after 2 - 3 years it is apparent that the turbine will not pay back in 10 years?

The spurious claims being made by some sales reps at energy shows and on web sites will come back to haunt us in 18 - 24 months, when radio chat shows will be clogged with angry people ranting about the fact that the payback is not being achieved. Do we want the 6 pm news doing a wood pellet type report on domestic wind turbines? The renewable energy sector needs to clean up its act and set standards for sales of renewable products.

How can some one state a payback to a client with out viewing the site?

I learned an important lesson about wind turbines, I measured my wind speeds for 1 year and at least I have factual data to help me make my decision.

Even though I live in a windy area my site is not great. There are better sites out there that are suitable for turbines, but how can the consumer make an informed decision?

We need to measure wind speed first, companies are under pressure to generate sales so if they are competing with cowboys who are telling porky pies about payback, what can they do, do they match their claims?

Any state assisted programme for wind turbines should mandate measurement of wind speed before the turbine is installed. I would recommend 6 months minimum measurement. Consumers should be made more aware about demanding calculations, results etc

Companies should produce factual energy output measurement and recorded data for energy production from at least 5 different sites. Sound levels should be measured from 20, 40 and 60 meters.

As part of a sales quotation companies should include a calculation from an application such as RETscreen which would indicate the kw hrs being produced, this would be backed up with the recorded wind speed analysis.

Some companies can provide data on the output generated by their turbines across different countries and different locations. My instinct is to trust these companies above a company that starts business on a Monday and imports a turbine from China on a Tuesday so as to sell it on a Wednesday. 

There are videos on youtube where enthuastic wind turbine installers have installed wind turbines and mentioned the figures being generated. I did my sums and the payback for that installer was 30 years plus. The problem was the site. That same wind turbine would have a payback time of 26 years on my site based on their cost.

The domestic wind turbine is fraught with issues that must be addressed in an open and transparent manner. We have the potential to benefit from this great resource but this can only be achieved using an ethical and honest approach. 

Student of the new Tipperary Institute degree in Computing in Smart Sustainable Energy will examine these modelling issues as well as the other factors that must be taken into account when modelling renewable energy sources.

If you are interested in learning some more on Wind Energy, you might consider reading this book.

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Influenced by:

Irish Eyes
Mike Maunsell
Tom Raftery I.T. views
Damien Mulley
James Corbett (Eirepeneur)
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