Final Report Summary - OPTIWIND (Optimum Power Extraction of Wind Energy by Small to Medium Scale Wind Turbines)
Background and Objectives
Commercial wind farms populated with large wind are constructed in sites that are exposed to high winds for large portions of the year. However, small to medium wind turbines are situated close to where the power is required. This is often in positions that are not optimal as far as wind speed is concerned, and they are exposed for much of their operational lives to low wind speed conditions.
The overall aims of the OPTIWIND project was to further research and develop the maximum power extraction technologies that will enable us to improve the energy efficiency of small to medium wind turbines during operation in low wind conditions. It is vitally important the maximum power can be extracted from the lower wind speed range of the turbine. The target end product is expected to be capable of producing approximately 20—25% more energy capture for low wind speeds. This will increase the uptake of the products and open up more sites that will become economically viable for further energy generation at point of use. This will lead to significant economic and societal benefits to manufacturers, service and installations companies and contribute to climate change objectives.
The purpose of the OptiWind project was to maximise performance for small to medium wind in the 10kw - 100kw range utilising a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) algorithm. The software algorithm was to improve turbine output and integrate IP within a bespoke inverter. A simplified "out of the box" set up to improve energy capture with an added monitoring service, which would provide a competitive benefit.
It was proposed that this would be achievable through continual perturbation and observation of the turbine output response, as conventional look up tables are un-dynamic and could not be adapted. By using a separate hardware controller platform, for example a turbocharge add-on principle, and an appropriate universal communications protocol to control the inverter, it would therefore be possible to produce an "off the shelf" solution.
The OptiWind project was initially focused on the compatibility of the algorithm with the GenDrive wind inverter. As you will see later in the report the exit of GenDrive from the consortium provided a unique opportunity to redefine the vision for the product. It was agreed the consortium would focus on ensuring the algorithm could be more compatible with inverters readily available in the wind industry, opening up the market share and versatility of the end product.
The initial objectives of the FP7 Consortium had to be readdressed to satisfactorily conclude the aims and requirements of the project. In June 2014 an extra ordinary Consortium Meeting was held to evaluate the problems and decide how best these could be resolved to benefit the outcome of the project. A number of technical parameters have changed which the Consortium believes will provide the basis for a more robust, universally compatible end product.
It became apparent during the project there would be technical difficulties with the GenDrive Inverter, particularly the speed of its processor. Discussions took place as to how to make the algorithm more compatible with inverters readily available in the wind industry.
It was proposed to produce a standalone device that could be both retrospectively fitted to existing systems and/or provided by turbine/inverter manufacturers to be compatible with as many systems as possible. This would mean that additional research, development and testing needed to be undertaken to confirm compatibility and availability of other inverters in the marketplace that would work effectively with the OptiWind system.
Work had progressed well with the algorithm. Tecnalia demonstrated several algorithm options both sensor-less and using sensors. During a Consortium meeting in December 2013 a collective decision was made to select the sensor-less algorithm. Tecnalia began to optimise the sensor-less algorithm chosen.
Due to the exit of GenDrive from the consortium extensive research was carried out to find a project compatible wind inverter for the continuation of the project. There are very few available. The research also highlighted that industrial motor drives operating in regeneration or negative torque mode would be capable of providing the front-end speed control topology to provide a test base for the algorithm. With this method standard photovoltaic (PV) grid connection inverters can be used for power export and they are more readily available. An ABB motor drive was chosen.
For further information on the project, please visit the projects main web site at:
Project Context and Objectives:
At the commencement of the Project:
Participate no. / type of participant Participant Organisation Name Participant Short Name Participant Type Country
1 Windcrop Limited WIND SME UK
2 ATech elektronika d.o.o. ATEC SME Slovenia
3 GenDrive Ltd GEN SME UK
4 Pars Makina PARS SME Turkey
5 Geolica Innovations (Kliux) GEO SME Spain
6 Insteller INST SME Spain
7 The UK Intelligent Systems Research Institute Limited ISRI RTD UK
8 Tecnalia TEC RTD Spain
Windcrop Ltd went into liquidation in July 2013. FuturEnergy Ltd replaced them by the end of 2013. GenDrive Ltd the lead partner also went into Administration just months later. FuturEnergy have agreed to take on GenDrive’s role of Dissemination and Exploitation Manager to enable the project to proceed.
At the close of the project:
Participate no. / type of participant Participant Organisation Name Participant Short Name Participant Type Country
1 FuturEnergy Limited replaced Windcrop Limited FE SME UK
2 ATech elektronika d.o.o. ATEC SME Slovenia
3 FuturEnergy Limited replaced GenDrive Ltd FE SME UK
4 Pars Makina PARS SME Turkey
5 Geolica Innovations (Kliux) GEO SME Spain
6 Insteller INST SME Spain
7 The UK Intelligent Systems Research Institute Limited ISRI RTD UK
8 Tecnalia TEC RTD Spain
Governmental intervention dictates that the UK’s climate change target is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 34% in 2020 and 80% in 2050. (4) Small wind turbines (SWTs) – rated up to 100kW – could potentially make a significant contribution towards reducing GHG emissions. The UK Government has introduced a range of incentives to encourage the uptake of SWT technologies, incl. FiTs, the Green Deal and removal of the need for planning permissions in some cases.
Small-wind generation is expected to help reduce the GHG emissions from electricity use in the domestic (and potentially commercial) sector, contributing towards the UK’s target. Despite the recent increases in market uptake of SWTs, there remain a number of challenges that restrict both the maximisation of their power output and wider adoption of this promising renewable energy solution. The deployment of the OptiWind system will further assist in reaching these targets.
Each member state in the EU-28 now has a legally binding 2020 target related to the share of renewable energy in their final energy consumption. The most commonly available renewable energy sources are hydro, biomass, PV, CSP, Wind, Geothermal & Wave Power. Of these, wind is increasingly becoming cost competitive and the cost of wind turbines are dropping as volumes increase. This project dealt with distributed energy production by small to medium wind turbines in the 10kw-100kw ranges, used immediately close to the point of power production.
Problems in micro generation (<50kW) exist because they are normally sited at point of use. If this is in an urban environment this has a limiting effect on the amount of wind power available unless the turbine is situated above the “canopy” of nearby buildings, trees etc. Nevertheless the EC-funded “Wind Energy of the Built Environment” (WEB) project in 2005 identified that small to medium power wind turbines in the urban environment had the potential to produce up to 5 TWh of power with up to 2.2 Mt CO2 savings by 2020 in the UK alone.
Wind energy conversion is a long-standing process that has been employed for hundreds of years but it is complicated and difficult to capture the maximum possible amount of power at any given point in time. The amount of power output from a WECS depends upon the accuracy with which the peak power points are tracked by the MPPT controller of the WECS control system regardless of the generator type.
With any generator, payback time is the dominant issue, but with wind power, that figure varies dramatically from one site to another. As a general rule, the best sites on land are high and remote, but that means greater “installed” costs when cabling, tower costs and transmission losses are taken into account. The newer, larger turbines deal with this in part through the economies of scale but they have a substantial impact on the landscape. Onshore wind farms are meeting organised and effective planning objections in the UK and Germany.
For any wind turbine the maximum point of power curve occurs at a particular rotor speed for a given wind speed. Even a small variation from this rotor speed will cause a significant decrease in the power extracted from the wind. Rotor speed, for a given wind speed, is dependent upon generator loading as well as the fluctuation in the wind speed. Power extraction strategies assess the wind conditions and then introduce control action to adjust the turbine’s rotational speed so that it will operate at the turbine’s highest aerodynamic efficiency. Conversion strategies that have not been optimized can lead to significant wasted wind energy.
There have been many attempts to achieve maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithms but these have not been successfully translated from academic studies to reliable working industrial implementations in our power range. The focus of the OptiWind consortium is to produce an industrial solution that works reliably and can be employed without needing expert users.
The small wind industry has changed significantly since the commencement of this project in November 2012, as well as the members of the OptiWind Consortium. Windcrop Ltd went into liquidation in July 2013. FuturEnergy Ltd replaced them by the end of 2013. The project lead partner GenDrive Ltd also went into Administration just months later. FuturEnergy agreed to take on GenDrive’s role of Dissemination and Exploitation Manager to enable the project to proceed.
However, this still left OptiWind without the GenDrive Inverter and necessary hardware, as the product was no longer available. The IP of the product had been purchased by C & F (a competitor in the marketplace) during liquidation proceedings.
FuturEnergy were asked to take over the lead role in the project to replace GenDrive as they were best placed to execute Dissemination and Exploitation. FuturEnergy agreed to this role contributing to the development, commercialisation and dissemination of the OptiWind system.
As described, the OptiWind project was set up to further research and develop maximum power extraction technologies enabling us to improve the energy efficiency of small to medium wind turbines during operation in low wind conditions. The objective was to create an evolving algorithm, which will continuously monitor turbine performance and increase power extraction where possible away from a static look up table. The static nature of a look up table means that minor differences between turbines cannot be accounted for.
A hardware simulator is required to allow testing of the MPPT algorithms under controlled conditions in order to initial test and assess performance. The simulation test rig will be used to initially test the algorithms and hardware developed in WP2 and 3. The system will be required to operate in a similar manner to that of a conventional wind turbine while allowing control of the environmental conditions.
This section considers the steps taken to commission the simulation test rig. Commissioning is composed of 4 main stages to ensure that the system is safe and functional. These stages are: risk assessment, set-to-work testing, provision of safe operating procedures and initial trials under test conditions.
Instability issues were noted during the initial testing in that the system was unstable under certain operating conditions. This was investigated using a stepped wind profile and found to be related to the tuning of the generator inverter. Instability was also noted when switching between operating modes on the OptiWind control board. This was traced back to the operation of the control system – essentially, the control disregarded the current state of the generator when switching modes resulting in a brief period where the commanded output from the OptiWind control would be set to zero. This was resolved in the OptiWind controller by setting the starting state of a mode to the current state of the generator. Additionally, rate limiting was introduced to stop large changes in command due to a change in operating mode. The initial testing also showed that generally, the MPPT algorithm would be operating in hill climb mode and Kopt would not converge on a single value. The MPPT algorithm has a number of parameters that control its response under different operating conditions – these parameters were initially set such that the MPPT algorithm was more likely to consider wind conditions were stable and allowed adaption almost continuously over the test period. An assessment of the progression of the Kopt was performed to ensure the expected behaviour of the MPPT using a range of MPPT parameters.
Hardware In The Loop Equipment
A hardware simulator is required to allow testing of the MPPT algorithms under controlled conditions in order to initial test and assess performance. Where possible this system should use the same or similar components to those used in a generic wind turbine set-up. The target inverter will be an industrial ABB drive - this will be controlled via the OptiWind MPPT algorithm using speed control. The remainder of the system will be based around 2 motors (one configured as a drive motor and the other configured as a generator as shown in attached report) and another industrial automation inverter under torque control to simulate the wind input.
The basic commissioning plan is to ensure the hardware simulation system is safe to operate – this was completed through risk assessment and the set-to-work procedure. A safe operating procedure was generated to allow start-up and shut down of the equipment under normal operating conditions and safe shut down under abnormal operating conditions.
As a brief summary, the main risks highlighted were related to instability of the system during operation and mechanical failure. It is possible that these 2 aspects could be linked i.e. the main concern in relation to mechanical failure are related to the flywheel, which simulates the rotating machine of the turbine. Instability, either of the drive motor or the generator, could contribute to failure of this component.
The safe-operating procedure defines a series of steps to be taken to ensure that the system can be operated correctly. This includes initial set-up steps, operating instructions and steps to be taken in the event of a fault.
Mechanical, electrical, software, control and system testing is conducted during the set-to-work trials. These trials are intended to demonstrate that the equipment is safe to operate. No issues were raised during the set-to-work trials although the grid-tie inverter purchased for the hardware simulator could not be set-up due to manufacturer limitations in the firmware. As such the hardware simulator was operated without a grid-tie inverter and with all energy generated diverted to a dump load.
Initial trials to determine correct operation under test conditions
Initial trials focused on the interoperability of the distribution and project cabinets and also the testing of the Labview software. The actions taken based on these tests are summarised below:
• An additional relay was added to allow the Labview control to activate the e-stop circuit.
• A number of alignment issues with the drive motor and generator were resolved by adjustment of the drive couplings.
• The motor over-temperature trip was activating prematurely – in the ABB inverter this operation is controlled via an algorithm that predicts the motor temperature. The coefficients for the algorithm were updated based on the empirical data gathered during the initial operation of the hardware simulator.
• The OptiWind control board analogue I/O was checked and operation verified.
• Instability issues on the ABB inverter were initially considered to be related to the operation of the dump load however, ultimately, these issues were found to be related to the tuning of the ABB – see below.
• Labview crash events at the end of a wind profile were resolved.
• The COP calculation on the Labview software was found to be using the wrong variables and this was resolved.
• A constant torque command was added to the Labview software to facilitate testing. Tests were conducted using this feature to resolve ambiguities between the reported torque on the ABB and the command via the drive inverter. The hardware simulation system was evaluated by using the system inertia and monitoring the acceleration of the system for different commanded torque inputs. It was noted that the torque applied was non-linear with speed.
• The hardware stop on the OptiWind control board was tested and operation confirmed. The transition between stopped and MPPT modes and also between OptiWind control modes was also tested.
OptiWind Control System Trials
The initial control system trials showed that under certain conditions the simulation hardware was unstable. At this point it was unclear where the instability was being introduced – both the drive motor and the generator were initially tuned in-situ using the manufacturer’s software and instructions. Through a number of trials it became clear that the ABB tuning was responsible for the instability and this was investigated further. The following figures (figure 2 and 3) show the torque response of the ABB inverter to a stepped ‘wind’ profile. It can be seen in figure 2 that the system shows instability on the transitions between wind speeds and also a highly unstable response at the maximum speed. Varying the tuning parameters, as annotated on the individual images, shows how the system response varies with these parameters – the attached report shows the tuned response to the same wind profile.
In addition to the instability issues noted above related to the tuning of the ABB inverter, it was also noted that switching between operating modes on the OptiWind control board produced instability on the simulation test rig. Further investigation showed that when switching modes, the new control mode would assume a start from zero speed and torque, resulting in a crash stop of the test rig before the next mode takes over (the attached report provides the various waveforms). This issue was resolved in the OptiWind control by allowing the new mode to use the current speed and torque references as the starting conditions; ramps were also introduced so that the transition between modes was smoother while the new operating mode stabilised.
In the initial trials, it was noted that the MPPT algorithm tended to constantly adapt and never converged on what was considered the optimum Kopt value based on the known wind profile conditions. A number of parameters are involved in the operation of the MPPT under different wind conditions. Essentially, these control the starting conditions for the MPPT, how the MPPT adapts and also how fast the MPPT is allowed to adapt.
These parameters are:
• Kopt_ini – the initial value that the Kopt adopts following a reset of the OptiWind control board.
• EPS and EPS_sup – these parameters determine when the MPPT considers that the wind speed is stable and that it is able to adapt. The higher the EPS value, the more easily the MPPT will consider that the wind is stable. The EPS_sup value should be set to twice the EPS value.
• Speed step up and speed step down – these parameters limit the maximum step size that the MPPT is allowed to make in one update
The following (see report)shows the progression of Kopt with different EPS values – in each case the wind profile used is the same. It can be seen from the figure that with low EPS values the Kopt varies very little over the duration of the test, the medium value of EPS shows more adaption and the highest EPS value shows the most variation. In practice, the EPS value should be chosen based on the wind conditions at each site.
A hardware simulator has been built and commissioned to allow testing of the MPPT algorithms under controlled conditions in order to initial test and assess performance. This rig has been used to test the algorithms and hardware developed in WP2 and 3 prior to the deployment of the OptiWind control system in the field.
Documentation has been produced to consider the risks associated with running the simulation test rig and safe operation. All of the issues encountered during the commissioning process have been resolved – these mainly relate to the functionality of the drive motor control software and the electro-mechanical set-up of the simulation test rig.
The initial functional testing highlighted a number of additional issues related to the stability of the simulation test rig and also the operation of the OptiWind controller. These issues were traced back to tuning of the generator, the mode switching behaviour of the OptiWind controller and the set-up of the OptiWind controller.
The simulation test rig was successfully commissioned and simulation testing of the OptiWind controller has been successfully completed. Details of these tests are presented in D2.2.
The Research for SMEs instrument allows us to assign a significant part of the required scientific and technological research to our two RTD partners. However, all of the IPR generated will be assigned exclusively to the SME partners.
TEC Tecnalia work in the development of MPPT algorithms based on variable step size HCS controls for small wind turbines. They have expertise in self-tuning MPPT algorithms.
ISRI ISRI have experience in intelligent systems, implementation of control systems and mathematical modeling and simulation work.
At Month 20 of the project an Extra Ordinary Consortium Management Meeting was held, to determine how to proceed after the news that GenDrive Limited had ceased trading and the GenDrive inverter would no longer be available. The IP for the GenDrive inverter was now owned by C & F (a competitor in the marketplace) who manufacture small wind turbines. The Consortium members needed to agree a way forward to secure the knowledge already attained and to proceed without a lead partner and the GenDrive inverter.
Extensive research was carried out to find a project compatible wind inverter for the continuation of the project. There are very few available. The research also highlighted that industrial motor drives operating in regeneration or negative torque mode would be capable of providing the front-end speed control topology to provide a test base for the algorithm. With this method standard photovoltaic (PV) grid connection inverters can be used for power export and they are more readily available. An ABB motor drive was chosen.
It was further considered that if the OptiWind software was to be compatible with other commercial inverters the external FreeScale tower based system should remain. In the new topology the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) would have the corresponding pair interface RS232, which seemed to be the most logical way to progress.
The PV inverter uses the DC link voltage to determine the amount of power to be transferred onto the grid, as the Bus voltage rises the power transferred to the grid rises, this is much the same as how the PV inverters for wind work now, but it has no effect on the torque being applied to the turbine, the PV inverter also deals with any requirements regarding the connection to the grid, grid over/under voltage, flicker, noise etc.
The motor controller feeds back to the FreeScale board, RPM and current. As this is an active motor controller the power factor should be close to 1, so mechanical power being applied to the motor can be calculated from the current and motor RPM inside the FreeScale board.
Additionally, the PLC could transmit the tower state to the FreeScale board if required, this could include information such as; angle out of wind, any additional breaking being applied, fault states, wind speed.
System Demonstrator and Field trials
A demonstration system was assembled in one of the project partner’s offices using the Freescale Developer Board running Tecnalia’s algorithm. This was connected to a 3 Phase Mastervolt 15kW inverter and a 15kW Permanent Magnet Generator test rig. The test rig used at the project partner offices was not an identical match to the field trial test site.
Having assessed the performance of this demonstrator, field trials were undertaken using the Freescale Develop board. The system was installed at the FuturEnergy 10kW turbine test site in North Wales. The overall performance of the system was found to have some significant differences from the results achieved on the demonstration system.
Description of test site analysis
On 25th & 26th February 2015 FuturEnergy visited the Wales test site and installed the OptiWind device on their 10kw turbine.
FuturEnergy installed the analogue connections, scaled the values in the ABB and Freescale and confirmed the values were correct using the ABB and OptiWind web page. A small PLC program was written to send STOP and EXP commands to the Freescale - the STOP signal is also connected to the ABB so that the ABB switched to torque mode / internal lookup table.
All connections were working and the ABB could be switched from Freescale MPPT to ABB torque lookup table without any problems. Digital IO to the OptiWind was good and by using the web page to view the IO changing they could confirm this.
FuturEnergy initially want to maintain the use of the ABB lookup table rather than the OptiWind manual and auto lookup tables for safety – they could test these on future visits to site.
FuturEnergy testing procedure was as follows:
1/ Tests of analogue and digital IO connections were good and test-scaling values were good. Successful.
2/ Following many changes to the ABB parameters and program - Test the normal function of the turbine with only ABB lookup table active. Successful.
3/ Start the turbine in MPPT mode to check ABB used speed command, and the Freescale tower correctly receives speed and power values. Successful.
4/ With the turbine running, test that the ABB could be switched between lookup table to MPPT. Successful.
5/ Run for a longer time period in MPPT mode to see Kopt changing. Successful.
FuturEnergy made available a short video showing operation after the MPPT mode was enabled for 45mins - 1 hour, they made the following observations;
1/ The speed command from the algorithm was high most of the time - approximately 30% higher than the speed that the lookup table would have resulted in. On the video Doug Nangle switched to lookup table a few times and you can see that rotor speed lowered and as a result power export improved greatly. Typically the lookup table produced powers around 2000 - 4000 watts and when the MPPT was switched on the speed of the rotor increased and the power dropped to around 300 - 500 watts. FuturEnergy did see the Kopt changing over the 45min running time but it did not lower the RPM of the rotor enough to efficiently extract power.
2/ In MPPT mode FuturEnergy observed occasionally the generator being heavily loaded, which resulted in a loud rumbling noise from the generator. This happened mainly when turbine speed was high - when it happened it was necessary to switch back to the lookup table, as we believed the turbine may be damaged if it continued for a long time. FuturEnergy thought that the issue may have been caused by a rapid change in speed request resulting in heavy generator loading – They looked through the ABB parameters and adjusted reference speed ramping, but this did not resolve the problem.
ISRI believe there are likely to be some ABB Drive parameters that can solve the issues seen on the live test site trials.
With the above issues its was decided not to leave the turbine in MPPT mode – FuturEnergy can switch it in remotely but have no way of knowing if the heavy generator loading is taking place.
Post field trial installation
Since the initial field trial installation investigations continued at ISRI, Tecnalia and FuturEnergy to ascertain why the system seemed to be underperforming and producing unwanted noise in the turbine nacelle. New settings from industrial drive manufacturer ABB resulted in the eradication of the rumbling issues seen on the first few days of testing.
After final algorithm changes and lab testing a second site visit was conducted to install an updated Freescale Development Board. This was the final deployment of the updated OptiWind algorithm at the test site.
Since 17th April 2015 the OptiWind algorithm has been switch on and off to provide ISRI with the necessary quantity of data to analyze, and produce final data on the percentage of improved performance the algorithm will offer prospective users of the system. Based on best data set so far the analysis shows a 4.2% increase in performance on the FuturEnergy test site. This however may be drastically increased on other less well-tuned turbines running standard look up tables.
This project has succeeded in identifying a successful method of deploying the OptiWind Algorithm, which will provide a viable platform for mass production for the Wind market. The project has shown that these components, which are designed for use in motor drive and solar PV markets, will open up the products potential allowing it to be based on readily available system architecture products that are pre certified in their relevant territories. The original concept of imbedding the algorithm in the GenDrive Invertor would have narrowed the algorithms marketability and locked its potential in to a single product. The project has built a prototype, has used this to build a system demonstrator, and has undertaken field trials.
The potential impact and the main dissemination activities and exploitation of results
The OptiWind project initially focused on compatibility with the GenDrive wind inverter. With the revised decision to make the algorithm more compatible with other inverters readily available in the wind industry, the Consortium believes this will open up the market share considerably and increase versatility of the programme more than originally anticipated.
It is apparent that GenDrive initially drove the project towards embedding the algorithm into the GenDrive inverter. It is envisaged this would have limited the end user market to a mixture of new sales of GenDrive inverters and convincing end users (who had already bought a GenDrive inverter) to pay an additional 4600 euros to replace it for the OptiWind GenDrive. This would not have been an easy sell.
The impact and results of the project will now be exploited by both creating a standalone OptiWind device, and integrating an OptiWind enabled daughterboard for integration in to industrial drive applications. The products will be produced based on the results of the research, with the product form, function, and price being led by market need.
Use and dissemination of foreground
Section A - For Public Domain
Dissemination activity for the OptiWind project has focused on end user turbine owners and industrial drive and inverter manufacturers. The 6 exploitation options for the OptiWind Algorithm show a clear path for revenue for the consortium via direct sales to end users, and potential licensing options to some of the primary components that make up the typology of the OptiWind set up post GenDrive.
In February 2014 FuturEnergy exhibited at the Energy Now Expo in Telford, UK. The OptiWind project was promoted to all those that attended the stand during 12th and 13th February and was very well received. The market potential for the end product was encouraging at this early stage of the project.
There is also a project display board located at ISRI where many technology based customers and various industrial companies regularly visit. This has enabled further project and product promotion.
FuturEnergy have shown the OptiWind banner in its showroom introducing key customers and manufacturers to the project, its results so far, and the consortiums planned exploitation options. There has been a great deal of interest from industrial drive manufacturers in the algorithms potential.
Dissemination activity will continue post project ensuring final field trial results are made available to both current and potential turbine owners, renewables industry experts, and key industrial component manufacturers that may be able to take the algorithm in to areas not initially envisaged by the consortium. This will allow the consortium to fully exploit the algorithms commercial potential.
Further work needs to be done to produce papers or presentations from the RTD’s to promote OptiWind at Renewable Energy conferences and within Journals providing no IP sensitive information is disclosed. Since we cannot confirm any solid field test data from the prototype no IP has so far been generated, therefore, no Patent or Copyright has been applied for.
The intended audience for any dissemination activity is made up a number of different groups, each with different informational requirements:
o End Users
o Secondary user system installers and distributors.
o End Customers – Final users of the technology
o Other Turbine Manufacturers
o Wind Turbine Inverter Manufacturers
o Policy makers
The dissemination plan will take their different needs into account and ensure that these are met through appropriate activities.
FuturEnergy have a network of established Wind Turbine Installers and Distributors in the UK, throughout Europe and World Wide. Dissemination of the project and its results will take place through a number of channels deemed appropriate for this early stage of development.
Examples of dissemination activity have included press releases in digital magazines such as www.edie.net and www.efficientenergy.net and Slovenian magazine Občinsko glasilo
Once the final results are available from the project and live site trials have concluded FuturEnergy will publish articles in industry and renewables magazines/websites, promoting the algorithms ability to increase AEP for turbine owners.
The consortium has also included information on the OptiWind project on their own websites to raise the profile of the project within their own client base and industry.
Workshops Demonstrations Exhibitions and Seminars
FuturEnergy carries out a continuous program of workshops, and installer courses for their wind turbines at their manufacturing facility. FuturEnergy have promoted their turbines at major trade shows around the world where as well as general product promotions on the main stand selected customers are introduced to new technology on a one to one basis.
As part of this process and at the stage when FuturEnergy where requested to lead the project a number of investigative calls where made to inverter and drive manufactures and producers. Presently inverter manufacturer DVE are interested in talking further following the finalisation of our results as are Industrial Drive manufacturers ABB and LS.
In February 2014 FuturEnergy exhibited at the Energy Now Expo in Telford, UK. The OptiWind project was promoted to all those that attended the stand during 12th 13th February and was very well received. The market potential for the end product was encouraging at this early stage of the project.
Papers and Display Posters will be submitted to the following conferences, which will also present networking opportunities with professionals and potential users of the OptiWind technology. Some of these conferences are non-academic and are usually included as part of a trade show and should lead to further engagement with the target customer base.
RTD partners are producing technical white papers covering the developments of the project. These can be presented at many of these trade shows to help raise the profile of the OptiWind project, it’s results, and the market opportunity for the product.
The following trade shows will be a perfect opportunity to give exposure to the OptiWind project.
2015 All-Energy Exhibition & Conference - SECC in Glasgow - 6 -7th May
- Target Audience: Distributors, Manufacturers, Installers, End Users
2015 POWER-GEN EUROPE – Amsterdam - 9-11th June
- Target Audience: Distributors, Manufacturers, Installers, End Users
2015 HUSUM WIND - Husum, Germany - 15th – 18th September
- Target Audience: Distributors, Manufacturers, Installers, End Users
2015 Nextgen - Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire - 7th – 8th October
- Target Audience: Distributors, Manufacturers, Installers, End Users
FuturEnergy will also engage with energy and renewables trade magazines and websites to secure editorial pieces on the project/product, again to raise the profile and stimulate market interest. Including:
Articles will be prepared and submitted in the following publications.
Real Power - is the UK’s no.1 renewable energy magazine — widely acclaimed by the industry, and required reading for the wind and marine energy sector
Renewable Energy - With over 52,000 subscribers and a global readership in 174 countries around the world, Renewable Energy World Magazine covers industry, policy, technology, finance and markets for all renewable technologies.
Renewable Energy Installer - Renewable Energy Installer is the magazine for micro generation. With information on the latest news, products, legislation, training courses and case studies, they keep readers up-to-date and provide the information they need to take advantage of new business opportunities.
Energy Engineering - is published bi-monthly covering the products and processes, innovation, technology and management of renewable energy and sustainability in all its forms.
MEPCA - a monthly magazine, providing information on the latest technologies, advice and solutions for management and technical challenges encountered by Managers and Engineers in the process, control and plant industries. Subscription based distribution consists of – All UK’s major manufacturing and industrial units.
EWEA - it is EWEA's objective to facilitate national and international policies and initiatives that strengthen the development of European and global wind energy markets, infrastructure and technology in order to achieve a more sustainable and cleaner energy future.
Green Futures - For 18 years, Green Futures was the go-to magazine for lively and engaging debate on environmental solutions and sustainable futures. Every issue of the magazine offers news stories, features and comment on a range of topics, from clean energy and smart design, to food and finance in a changing world, reaching a print audience of up to 25,000.
Renews - Established in 2002, the reNEWS newsletter is regarded as a leading source of information on the sector, providing the exclusive and unmissable stories that matter to the industry.
Energy Industry Today - EIN News is designed to assist those seeking breaking news and those who have breaking news to share.
Wind Power Monthly - Windpower Monthly is the leading news magazine of the international wind energy business, publishing non-stop since 1985.
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Our consortium is now composed of five SME partners; small wind turbine manufacturers (FuturE, KLIUX, PARS), small wind turbine installers (INST) and custom electronics manufacturers (ATEC). Our target market area is small to medium wind turbines in the range 10kW to 100kW power range. We are united in wanting to enhance the operation of our products to make us more competitive in our target market and transfer significant advances that have been developed in academic institutions into a robust and reliable industrial solution. These advances have been made for energy efficiency and extracting the maximum amount of power from the wind at any given point in time. These advances related to control and maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithms are being incorporated within large wind turbines because the large enterprises that dominate that sector can afford to undertake the work necessary to make use of the advances.
The renewables market has seen some major changes recently. Governmental policies both in the UK and Europe to reduce the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) have meant a lower rate of return on investment.(3) The UK tariff was cut to 16p as of 1st October 2014 for new projects and the yearly degression rate has increased from 1% to 1.5% for new projects in Germany alone. This has made the algorithm even more relevant to maximise the return on investment for each customer.
The unfortunate demise latterly of companies in the wind turbine industry further validates the Consortiums approach to focus on a standalone device that can be sold as an individual component. It is expected there will be a number of turbines currently installed whose manufacturers are no longer trading. These turbines will not be receiving performance up-grades. It is envisaged the now standalone OptiWind device will be an attractive option for the owners of these turbines.
The development of this product will provide owners an improved return on investment. If the development aspirations desired by the Consortium can be realised, the potential for both the retrospective market of possible redundant units and enhanced performance for many other renewable systems can be maximised. There are now not one, but six opportunities for exploitation for the SME participants.
The initial focus will be on the UK market for the small wind turbine market under 50kws.
1. Standalone OptiWind Device For Small Wind Turbine Inverter Manufacturers.
There are a limited number of dedicated wind turbine grid connection inverter manufacturers that are potential adopters of the standalone OptiWind device. Such inverters will need to be capable of accepting and transmitting the required control data to and from the device so it is likely that some close partnerships with be required to achieve sales. An after-market offering is likely to be difficult with existing installed wind inverters (such as the old GenDrive) due to the technical issues with integration. In these cases the consortium would look to recommend Option 3 (Retrofit) for those end users.
2. Algorithm Integration With Advanced Speed / Torque Drive Controllers.
Variable speed drives, widely used in industry, are beginning to be used as an alternative to dedicated wind turbine grid connection inverters. These drives can take the role of speed regulation in a more reliable fashion than newly developed all-in-on wind turbine inverter solutions which are capable of handling over production using integrated brake chopper control. There are a number of global industrial drive manufacturers who are showing great interest in renewable energy markets. The algorithm could be integrated within the drive firmware or could be supplied as an external add-on device for renewable drive applications. A number of small wind turbine manufacturers are currently trialing industrial speed controllers. Talks are already taking place with Industrial Drive manufacturers ABB and LS.
3. Full Retrofit Wind Inverter Replacement With OptiWind.
There is a growing list of turbine and wind inverter manufacturers who have ceased to exist leaving thousands of existing customers and installations unsupported - GenDrive being one example. There will be inverter failures in these older systems and replacement equipment will be required. FuturEnergy will propose the option to replace failed inverters with the full industrial drive / OptiWind / and standard grid inverter setup. Not only will the solution return a turbine to a running state but will have the benefit of increased performance offered by OptiWind.
4. FuturEnergy Micro Wind Turbine Control Integration.
FuturEnergy are developing 2 new micro wind turbine control systems. Firstly a battery charging system with built-in turbine safety features and IGBT power draw capabilities that are not normally found in battery charging applications. Secondly, a high efficiency micro turbine grid connected controller with local storage to ensure grid export is maintained at optimum efficiency. Currently both these systems are designed to employ a fixed lookup table power curve so are compatible for adoption of the OptiWind algorithm. These systems are intended to be low cost and would require that the algorithm be embedded on to the existing control processor. OptiWind would become a standard feature of FuturEnergy's micro turbines. As a FuturEnergy branded product we will be looking to establish distribution agreements with consortium members to market the FuturEnergy Micro Wind Turbine Controllers in their territories.
5. OptiWind / FuturEnergy Micro Wind Turbine Controller.
FuturEnergy intend to market their new controllers to other micro turbine manufacturers and as retrofit to existing turbine owners – this ‘OptiWind’ enabled controller could be branded as an OptiWind product. A suitable grid connection inverter has been identified that will be part of the grid connect offering which has the required certification for European countries and other major markets. Consortium members will have the option to market the OptiWind branded Micro Wind Turbine Controller in their territories.
6. FuturEnergy 10KW Wind Turbine Integration.
FuturEnergy will be obtaining UK MCS accreditation with the OptiWind algorithm. Therefore all future 10KW turbines manufactured will include an OptiWind device that will feed control values to the speed control component of the system. A packaged OptiWind control device will need to be developed from the prototype board, which will sit within the turbines control panel. As a FuturEnergy branded product we will be looking to establish distribution agreements with consortium members to market the FuturEnergy 10kW Wind Turbine in their territories.
We will also be engaging with industrial drive manufacturers, and inverter manufacturers to establish if there are licensing options for the OptiWind Algorithm. It is known for example that leading industrial drive manufacturers are looking for innovative routes in to the renewables market, and an embedded OptiWind algorithm could be an attractive proposition to such companies.
The Market for OptiWind technology
Both turbine owners and turbine installers form the main basis of the addressable market for the OptiWind Technology.
A main buying driver for the OptiWind device is clearly an increased AEP for the turbine owner. It is expected that the algorithm will provide an increased AEP of between 10% and 20%.
Field trails for the OptiWind algorithm have been conducted on the FuturEnergy 10kW Airforce10 Wind Turbine. With know AEP we can estimate the increased AEP for the turbine. Based on an average wind speed of 5.5m/s a turbine owner could expect to increase AEP from 25,430Kwhs to 27,973Kwhs (10% increase) and 30,516Kwhs (20% increased AEP).
The attavhed table shows average electricity costs for households across Europe in 2013. With this data we are able to estimate by country the money saved by a turbine owner if they were to install the OptiWind algorithm on to their turbine. Taking a cross section of European countries the below table illustrates the increased AEP and savings.
Calculations are shown as a saving in Euro’s rather than an earning, at a 5.5m/s wind speeds. This is because only certain countries in the EU have a Feed-in-Tariff scheme in place. Feed-in-Tariffs artificially inflate the value of electricity sold to the grid. Basing the figures on the average unit purchase price of electricity to the end user provides a level playing field when accessing the impact of increased AEP for all European countries.
As the attached table shows with a 10% increase in AEP a turbine customer on average could expect to save over €500 per year, with a 20% increase in AEP a turbine customer on average could expect to save over €1000 per year. It is yet to be shown how much the OptiWind algorithm will increase performance by. With the anticipated performance improvement to be between 10% and 20% the end user could expect a Return on Investment (ROI) for the device within 2 years (figures based on the FuturEnergy 10kw wind turbine selling price and Annual Energy Production (AEP). We should, therefore, expect the selling price to be in the region of €1,500.
Addressable Market Size
In its “State of the Industry” publication, RenewableUK reports that for the first time in five years, the UK is seeing a rise in the amount of UK capacity approved at a local level. Overall, onshore capacity approval for SWTs continues to rise, while there has been a downward shift in the number of large wind turbines installed. The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) is also predicted strong growth. A report in The Telegraph (16th May 2014) online reported a surge in interest in smaller wind turbines around the country. The article referenced data compiled by Earthmill, which showed a 60% rise in the number of “live” planning applications for SWTs since October 2013, with 810 applications in the system at the end of April 2014.
Figures from World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) indicate that the world market for small wind turbines is still in its infancy stage, but like the UK, is growing at an impressive rate. Over 80,000 SWTs were installed in 2012, a 10% increase compared with the previous year. The top three countries showing the most growth are China, USA and UK. Existing installed small turbines are believed to be well in excess of 500,000.
RenewableUK estimates that 3536 SWT systems were installed in the UK in 2013. Although no official figures exist, from our experience and what FuturEnergy supply to our customers, we estimate that roughly half of all SWTs installed in the UK required an inverter for grid connection. UK manufacturers exported 3,392 SWT units in 2010, which is roughly 50% of production output by UK manufacturers. Renewable UK’s projections estimate the market size in 2020 at £5.2 billion. Five countries (Germany, UK, USA, Canada, and China) account for over 50% of the small wind manufacturers. Denmark and Sweden are also known to be large markets.
Huawei (China), SMA (Denmark) and Mastervolt (USA) are the dominant players in the supply of inverter products. Their wind inverters are based on solar inverter technology and can only be installed with selected wind turbines. For example, the design for Mastervolt’s Windmaster 500 is based on the successful Soladin 600 Solar inverter of which more than 100,000 units have been sold.
In terms of the size of the inverter market segment, it is difficult to accurately estimate, as there is little direct information available. As mentioned, our own extensive research with trade bodies, industry experts and distributers, has led us to determine that the global market for SWT grid-tie solutions is approximately 50% of SWT units sold per annum. Based on the above data, we can therefore conservatively state that the total market value for the OptiWind Algorithm is therefore in the region of 40,000 units per annum. Based on average sales price of €1500, we estimate a total annual market value of €60million and an existing market of potentially €375million worth of sales.
Predicted Market Penetration and Time to Market: based on cost of manufacture €200 and selling price of €1500.
The consortium will commercialise the technology through installing the system in new build and retrofit to existing wind turbine installations within potential end-user companies. The initial users of the technology will be all of the consortium SME partners.
Due to the unforeseen hurdles the project has encountered the loss of two SME partners from the project, one of which left the consortium without a hardware platform. However, this has provided not one but six opportunities for exploitation for the SME participants.
The arrangements for IP ownership and management in the OPTIWIND project will ensure that each partner will benefit from applicable licensing and exploitation opportunities. Furthermore, the alliance between the partners will form a lasting commitment and integration of the SME knowledge base and technology, and supply chain. IP ownership and control, ‘royalties and benefits’ and access rights (including exclusion and access to ‘pre-existing’ and ‘side-ground’ know-how) for research and use of knowledge and the project results has been agreed amongst the consortium SME partners as set out within the Consortium Agreement.
FE – As Exploitation Managers and owners of the IP, FuturEnergy will control the Intellectual Property resulting from the project and be the central point of distribution for the OptiWind product range.
PARS - Will form part of the supply chain with the main focus being the supply of the OptiWind product to end user purchasers of their wind turbines. They have the opportunity to distribute the OptiWind product as part of their own product range. The OptiWind standalone device can be retrospectively fitted to existing systems. This will open up the market opportunity to offer installation services. PARS will receive preferential discounted distributor pricing for the OptiWind technology to enable them to push sales of the technology in their respective European territory.
INST: Will form part of the supply chain with the main focus being the supply, installation, maintenance and operation of the OptiWind products. They have the opportunity to offer their installation services and technology to incorporate all of the proposed exploitation methods within the Spanish marketplace. INST will receive preferential discounted distributor pricing for the OptiWind technology to enable them to push sales of the technology in their respective European territory.
ATEC: Will form part of the supply chain with the main focus being the supply of key custom electronic sub-assemblies. They will operate as an outsourced custom electronics supplier and expect to benefit from the manufacture of the hardware. They have the opportunity to quote and manufacture industrial-scale custom sub-assemblies for all six exploitation options proposed.
GEO: Will form part of the supply chain with the main focus being the supply of the OptiWind product to end user purchasers of our wind turbines. They have the opportunity to distribute the OptiWind technology as part of their vertical wind turbine offering. GEO will receive preferential discounted distributor pricing for the OptiWind technology to enable them to push sales of the technology in their respective European territory.
Additional Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits will be delivered to those outside the project.
• Reduce payback for the customer by increasing generated energy output efficiency - in low average wind speed areas, output could be doubled.
• Increase the feed in tariff payback received by the customer.
• The end-users of the OptiWind technology will benefit from increased feed-in-tariffs (FiT) for 20 years from the point of installation (UK).
• Successful rollout and export of the OptiWind Technology will reinforce Europe’s reputation as leaders in technical and environmental innovation.
• Enhance output of existing SWTs by 10% - 20% in typical low average wind sites leading to reduced dependency on non-renewable energy.
• Can reduce the requirement for larger sized wind turbines with many smaller, unobtrusive turbines due to increased output.
• Rollout of the OptiWind technology will generate jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance. Maintenance-related jobs will be very local to the installation site (hence spread throughout Europe) and remain in place for the lifetime a turbine (20+ years). This long-term supply for employment, at a range of proficiency levels, will help sustain local economies and society.
RenewableUK’s new ‘Local Opportunity in Onshore Wind: ‘Good Practice Guide’ aims to put right some of these misperceptions and more importantly, sets out in some simple steps what local companies need to do to maximise their chances of winning work from wind energy. Wind is not just a sustainable, affordable way of powering our homes but also a real driver of local and national growth.
Everyone from aggregate firms to hotels and house builders, have a viable prospect for diversification and winning new work if they are faced with sluggish development activity in their ‘traditional’ sectors. It is reported that some onshore projects spend up to a 3rd of their budget locally. To help, support and foster, delivery of extensive economic, social and environmental benefits.
Construction activity provides opportunities for material and plant supply and labour. A potential supply chain is long, accessible and potentially lucrative.
With economic concerns still dominating public and political discourse and likely to continue to do so, the success of local supply chain will both widen support base as well as maintain a better level of public acceptability of onshore wind turbines.
Real Power Magazine – issue 38 Autumn 2014.
The Consortium have successfully steered the project to completion, and through innovation have plans to adapt the original scope for OptiWind. They have been able to provide an alternative method of utilising the technology developed and adapted to the present market requirements.
It is considered that the collective approach of the members has enabled the project to continue. There are still a number of field trials to be carried out which will highlight the final products potential.
List of Websites:
Project website address: