Alternate Electrical Supply

Wind powering the industrial sector is not new. Around 1600, many new industrial applications of windmills appeared – saw mills, paper mills, mustard mills and tobacco mills. These days we concern ourselves with energy use and the constant increases in energy prices. A viable alternative to reducing dependence on traditional electricity supply is wind turbines. As wind is inconsistent, your existing grid makes up the shortfall when needed.

By installing and connecting a wind turbine to your existing electricity distribution system, you can reduce energy consumption used to power your factory machinery, lighting and heating systems.

Some food for thought: wind behaves in interesting ways. One of them is known as ‘the roof effect’.  This refers to wind colliding with a pitched roof with the result that when the free moving wind is suddenly stopped by a roof, the wind is compressed to some extent, which results in it being accelerated by up to several times as it passes over the obstructing roof. This phenomenon results in wind at the ridge peak of a pitched roof travelling at up to 3 times the speed of nearby uninterrupted wind.  There are wind turbines available to harness this phenomenon.

What You Need To Know:

There are two main types of wind turbines: a vertical axis turbine and a horizontal axis wind turbine. A horizontal axis turbine must be positioned so that it faces the wind. A vertical axis turbine does not necessarily need to be facing into the wind to function

Wind turbines can be free standing, attached or part of a building

In order for a wind turbine to operate at optimal performance, wind speeds in the area need to reach a speed in excess of 16km/h. Built up areas are generally not considered to be suitable for wind power unless wind is consistent for long periods

A special inverter is required to synchronise the varying voltage supply from your wind turbine to your existing grid. This device usually comes with the wind turbine package

Many suppliers offer DIY home kits, however service backup and installation is also provided by recommended suppliers

Payback period depends on the cost of the system and the wind consistency in the area. Depending on size and kilowatt generation, expect to pay anything from R5000.00 to over R100000.00

Currently, there is no incentive offer from Eskom to factories that deploy wind turbines

A backup storage battery is recommended because the inverter may not operate in the event of grid failure due to current legislation. This backup system will change the supply from the grid to the battery backup in the event of a power failure (grid failure) from Eskom

Large turbines are not recommended for built up areas

Wind turbines serve as a highly visible reminder to your staff and clients that you’re aware of your corporate social responsibility. It is also a positive display of your company efforts to reduce your carbon footprint

The system is even more effective when used in conjunction with solar power as a hybrid system:

  • It may be sunny but not windy and vice versa due to seasonal changes
  • Good quality wind turbines are virtually silent when generating energy
  • A variety of models and sizes are available
  • If mounted properly in a secure location, the system poses no safety risk
  • The system relies on the strength and consistency of wind