An Overview of Distributed Wind Energy
Distributed Energy generation typically refers to systems where the source of energy is located in the vicinity of the areas of load consumption. It is not the technology, size or networking of the system that defines distributed energy. There are two factors that come into the picture when we talk of distributed energy.
- Vicinity to the location of end-customer- Energy generation systems such as wind turbines which are located near the customer's property or are completely on-site is categorized as distributed wind energy systems. In typical systems, wind-turbines or windmills are located in geographically remote locations which have an abundance of high-speed winds, they are subsequently connected to the grid which transmits the power to various users.
- The point-of connection- The connection points in a typical wind energy system are made to the meter which calculates the energy supply and load consumption. In distributed, the wind turbines are connected “behind-the-meter”, which means they are connected directly to the distribution grid.
How does Distributed Wind Energy Function
Distributed wind energy systems are usually installed on agricultural, commercial, retail, industrial and social facilities which operate independently. The size of distributed wind energy projects ranges from 5 KW turbines which are used at individual homes to turbines measuring several megawatts which can be used to power manufacturing factories.
The distributed wind turbines are connected to the customer’s side of the meter or can be conveniently attached to microgrids or can also be used for offsetting large load consumptions in nearby areas. Distributed wind systems are typically categorized based on the application of the technologies and not the size of the applications. Traditional distributed wind energy systems are not larger than 20 Megawatts. In the United States, the cumulative power generated by all such distributed wind energy systems amounts to around 992 Megawatts. There are around 77,000 distributed wind turbines which are online. One of the main reasons for this growing popularity of wind turbines is the rising rates of utility and the popular trend of remaining independent from the main grid. Distributed energy systems can power the homes of their users even without the main grid.
While modern distributed systems only came about pretty recently, the concept of distributed wind energy is pretty ancient. Archaic wind “turbines” harnessed the power of wind not to generate electricity but for a variety of other purposes such as pumping water, grinding grains and lifting heavy goods among others.
Forms of Wind Turbines for Distributed Generation
The small wind turbines which are used in distributed systems have a rotor area of 200 meter-square and range from 50 kW to 100 kW which are used for houses and large domestic facilities. It has local grid support, backup batteries and other accessories. The medium range wind turbines have a rotor-sweep area of 201 to 1000 meter-square and the power ranges from 100 kW to 500 kW. While there are significant initial investments involved in the establishment of distributed wind energy systems, the potential benefits outweigh the investments.