Micro Wind Power Generation

Ken asks…

What are some examples of the ‘alternative energy’ current use?

What are the some examples of its current use?

Windmill Farms answers:

There’s a big difference between “alternative energy” and “alternative fuels”. Since you’re posting under “Green Living”, I’m going to assume you are talking about residential “alternative energy. Basically there are solar, wind and micro hydro.

Solar is the one getting all the media attention because photovoltaic cell arrays have been coming down in price but there are many ways of utilizing solar energy in a house. A house can be designed for passive solar heating but that limits the design and siting of the house. Solar thermal can be used to heat the hot water which then can be used directly or used to store and heat the home as needed. Solar can also be used to provide air conditioning. There’s the obvious use of photovoltaics to provide the electricity to run a conventional air conditioners but there are also air conditioners that are driven by heat, they are called absorption chillers. Large campuses use absorption chillers to provide thousands of tons of AC and RV’s use absorption chillers to provide refrigeration that run mostly on propane. Such absorption chillers can run on solar heat or use solar heat as a preheat to improve efficiencies. Indeed the very earliest refrigeration and air conditioning systems were all absorption chillers. All forms of solar suffer from siting issues in that not all lots and home designs are suitable for solar and from the fact that the weather can not be controlled so the amount of energy that can be produced can not be based on demand.

Wind power is the other alternative energy source that gets media attention. Like solar, wind power generation is subject to siting and the weather. Unlike solar, wind power is at it’s peak at night which unfortunately is when power demand is at it’s lowest. The inability for wind power to be available on demand limits the percentage of the grid that we can base upon wind power.

Micro hydro is the only alternative source with some degree of on demand availability but it requires that the site has certain water features such as a running creek or river. Hydro power is also subject to complicated water rights issues that are not easy to sort out.

Nancy asks…

What are some everyday uses for oil and what are some alternatives?

Windmill Farms answers:

Here are some common products that are made from oil:

•Gasoline
•Diesel fuel
•Heating oil
•Jet fuel
•Bunker fuel
•Fertilizers/pesticides
•Plastics
•Synthetic rubber
•Synthetic fibers
•Fertilizers/pesticides
•Dyes
•Paint
•Detergent
•Photographic film
•Food additives (canned food)
•Medicine
•Synthetic fibers (such as polyester, nylon, acrylic)
•Make-up
•Candles

In oil producing countries with little refinery capacity, oil is sometimes burned to produce electricity. Renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind power, micro hydro, biomass and biofuels might someday be used to replace some of these generators, but today the primary alternatives remain large scale hydroelectricity, nuclear and coal-fired generation.

Vegetables are used to produce biofuels.

You can do things to reduce your own use of oil by taking public transportation, using a bike to get to places close by, amd stop using a few of the things listed above, like makeup.

Hope this helps!!!

Carol asks…

Convert Amps to Kilowatts for a generator?

I’m trying to solve a power problem and need at least 600 amps of continual power at 14 volts DC but could need over 1000 amps for intermittent ‘boost’. What size generator do i need to maintain at least 600amps continuous at 14vDC? Could 1-2 high power car alternators supply this if mounted to a microturbine engine? Is it better to use AC power generation and convert it to DC in this case?

Windmill Farms answers:

The problem is that generators with this current rating are not easy to find, as there are few reasons for such a thing. At 14V x 600A the power is 8.4KW, but the peak/full load is 14KW. A car alternator is about 50A=700W, maybe a little larger, but for higher powers people move up in voltage for better efficiency. I mention power because that is related to the size and cost, as well as the engine needed. Despite all the stories on the internet about getting more power from car alternators, the current rating does not change. The voltage can be increased moderately (at sufficient RPM) to get a moderate power increase in a higher voltage system.

It all comes back to current rating with generators, while the watts is the power of the engine. The micro gas turbines I know of are a bit small for this. A petrol engine or even a small diesel will do it more reliably and cheaply. Generators can start a motor with more starting power than their rating but it has to be brief and the energy comes from the flywheel, and hopefully doesn’t last long enough to overheat the wires..

If it is really 14V you need at these currents it may be better to go for a mains power supply. While it is still an unusual power supply, it is probably more likely you can get someone to make an appropriate transformer and diodes. It would still likely be something that had to be designed and made especially.

Generally speaking the peak load is the rating. An overload may be tolerated for a few seconds only. The actual behaviour (how long a transformer or power supply or generator can sustain a particular overload) depends on the design, but is not always something a designer wants to talk about or specify, because of the risky nature of “sailing too close to the wind”. A (large) battery could supply the peak current, but even that is not straight forward for 1000A.

Incidentally 1000A is beyond any ordinary wire sizes, for the good reason of skin effect at 50/60Hz. The move to busbars (with a different shape factor) occurs near this current. Even a DC generator will be involved with this. So is a transformer. The design starts to become extreme. Diodes with these current ratings or switches are probably available but large, lossy and expensive. The dissipation across a diode with 1000A and 1V for forward voltage drop would be 1KW. That is heat the diode has to get rid of. The same applies to commutators and brushes.

The ordinary wall power outlet itself is unable to supply 14KW. It will be a special connection, most likely a three phase supply with that power rating.

I have to say I cannot even imagine what you are doing, unless it is electroplating or refining or something like that. You will need a consultant, because of the significant cost and unusual nature of this application. If possible I would reconsider, go to a higher voltage, reducing the current to more reasonable levels for this moderate power. If it must be 14V I would consider splitting it up into several smaller (and more obtainable) units. The larger power supplies for 14V are

I am not surprised that 1000A is misunderstood. The link below is a completely misleading rating. However lower down it says 100A, maybe that is closer to the mark. I tried searches for some of these items, and just got false hits from silly search engines. Larger 14V off the shelf power supplies may be 30-60A, like the car alternator in other words.

Donald asks…

if you wanted to generate your own electricity to power your own home which energy source would be suitable?

Windmill Farms answers:

If it was a financial consideration I would ignore solar and wind power – they just about break even over the life of the kit (10 to 15 years).

I would look towards burning a fuel and using the heat to drive a turbine and generate electricity that way. Controllable and you can get electricity when you need it – just add more fuel and off you go, the waste heat can be used to heat your house, to cook with, and maybe even have spare heat to sell to a neighbour! Spare electricity can be sold to the grid and you get tax rebates for this (in the future look for micro CHP schemes coming in – domestic power stations

Apart from the installation costs, fuel can be cheap – you can use wood chips (cheapest fuel source at the moment) which is renewable fuel and good to use, it is a by-product of wood using industries. You could also use food waste and domestic paper etc waste.

Anyway, domestic electricity generation doesn’t really pay for itself at the moment

Laura asks…

What do you think is going to be the biggest growth industry in 20 years?

If you had a high school graduating class to advise about what’s the field with the best opportunities, what would you say? Seems like we all have a “crystal ball” once we get old enough for a bit of perspective. Give it your best shot.
btexpress24: No, I’m not a teacher. I’m retired. I just used the classroom example to quell those who would complicate the issue with lines like “What the kid does best, or likes best” answers. That’s still number one for an individual kid, but not as relevant when speaking to a room full of kids.

Interestingly, no one as said directly (though several have gotten close) what I was thinking of. But these answers are all good but one: no need to learn a foreign language, because in 20 years oil will be either gone entirely or prohibitively expensive to extract from the earth.
This one has gotten such interesting answers I’m going to extend the deadline and then let it go to a vote.
Great stuff, but nobody hit what I was thinking, which is to design things made out of recycled materials, thereby increasing the incentive to recycle. So let’s see how this votes.

Windmill Farms answers:

Micro power generation (small home and office multiple power generating units which will be connected together to implement the grid and reduce demand of traditional energy sources) will be big business

ADDED
With the fact the we have already passed peak oil production and with present and future energy demands!
In about 20 years if not sooner the market will be begging for alternatives.

Further ADDED
A good idea would be to set up a company which would offer the service of measuring potential energy savers and energy makers for both private and public sectors.
This could also in involve the fitting and maintenance of devices, a course in cybernetics (feedback systems) would help in development and improvement of ideas.
Getting in early on, one could make a good profit before the market becomes flooded!

MORE INFO
NewScientist 21 Jan 2006
EVERY HOME SHOULD HAVE ONE
A revolution in small-scale roof-top generators could turn the electricity industry on its head and soon even outstrip that of the world’s nuclear power industry. The attraction of these personal microgenerators is that they are very suited to renewable sources – in the form of wind turbines, photovoltaic panels or water wheels – helping to slash carbon emissions while taking the strain off overloaded distribution grids. FEATURE Pages 36-39

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