Wind Turbine Electronics
Wind turbine systems will also contain the following electrical components:
- Turbine isolator switch - used in order to allow for the safe maintenance of the turbine. The turbine isolator is also used to prevent the turbine’s mechanics from failing in high winds.
- Circuit isolator - positioned between the various other components of the system in order to allow for safe maintenance of the wind turbine and the electrical system of your property.
- Control box - used to control all the main functions of the wind turbine, such as the braking system (used to prevent the blades from spinning and becoming damaged in storms). Many control boxes also have an LCD display which allows you to monitor the turbine’s current operation and performance.
- Cabling - used to connect the various parts of the wind turbine system. Cabling between the turbine and inverter is often placed underground, except in the case of roof-mounted turbines.
- Generation meters - For Feed-in Tariff purposes, it is necessary to measure the rate at which the turbine system exports energy to the local electricity distribution network. The export meters must be MCS-certified in order for the system to be eligible for FiTs.
- Batteries (in the case of off-grid systems) - used to store the electricity generated.
Your installer should include all of these components in the initial installation quote, so there is usually no need to buy them yourself.
Wind Turbine Inverters
The inverter is a key component of any wind turbine system. Inverters are units which convert the direct current (DC) power produced by wind turbines into alternating current (AC) which can be used to power appliances in homes and business, or exported to the electricity grid.
The specifications - and therefore the cost - of the inverter will vary depending on the size and power output of the wind turbine system. Inverters for small roof-mounted turbines can cost just a few hundred pounds. For other domestic pole-mounted systems (of up to 5-6 kW), you can typically expect to pay around £1,000 for an inverter. Larger and higher quality inverters can cost significantly more. Some larger turbines, such as the 10kW Xzeres 442SR come with inverters included.
Wind turbine installation companies should include the cost of the inverter and all other components in the initial quote.
Inverters tend to have a shorter life expectancy than the wind turbines themselves: manufacturers typically offer parts and service warranties of between 5 and 10 years.
Picture courtesy of Power One
Wind Turbine Electronic Monitoring Equipment.
These technologies enable you to monitor the effectiveness, quantify output and detect issues with your wind turbine both locally and via the internet.
On an industrial scale they are normally made up of a PDM (Power Distribution Monitor) that monitors the electrical circuit(s) and transmits the data via the internet to a webserver (website). This website then provides the user with near ‘Live’ information regarding their renewable energy generation and / or consumption at a very granular level.
In a residential or small scale installation, a smart hub or similar data monitoring and transmission device can be installed. This will measure the output from your solar array and the energy usage from your home or business. Some models have the facility to transmit the data to a web server where you can monitor it from any internet connected device, anywhere in the world, enabling both live and historical reporting and predicted output forecasting. This functionality permits the users to see if a fault develops in the inverter(s) or identify irregularities in output of the turbine and act accordingly.
Some systems even switch on and off appliances in your home or business automatically, based upon the availability of the energy being generated by your Wind Turbine. This functionality adds an element of automation to your energy consumption, decreasing your dependence on the national grid and further reducing your energy bills.