Saturday, 23 October 2010

Waitati Energy Project

By Scott Willis

Big Wind

Our local community turbine project is a nationally significant
project. How so? Well, we all understand, I hope, the benefits of
securing greater control over our energy needs and use locally.
Nationally, if we're successful and there were more communities like
us, we'd eventually reach a critical mass transforming our
centralised, think-big, top-down grid system into a decentralised,
responsive network with much greater resilience. This would also limit
the need for any large scale generation projects, reduce pressure on
existing infrastructure (and thus make things work more effectively),
and give us greater control over how we use our energy.

I've received messages of support from around the country thanks to
the profile our project has been given by WEP partner, the Hikurangi
Foundation (http://www.hikurangi.org.nz/), and I'm beginning to build
up a network of national advocates, who are already helping with bits
of technical and commercial advice. The fantastic Hikurangi
facilitation is already helping to sharpen the work we're doing on the
financial case for our community turbine. Meanwhile, I'm working with
Ros Day (planner) and Janet Stephenson (Otago Energy Research Centre)
on research that will allow our community consultation, if the Energy
Efficiency and Conservation Authority agrees on its merit. I hope to
have news for you before Christmas on consultation.

Small Wind

You can't have missed PowerHouse Wind's 'Thinair' single blade
prototype being tested at Sabina and Hagen's place on Blueskin Road
near the Eco-sanctuary. The exciting thing is that by mid November PHW
expects to replace the prototype with a pre-production model
(essentially replacing a single construction model with a
factory-ready model) and have it up and running continuously, allowing
Sabina and Hagen to export, as well as import, electricity.

Trials using a Christchurch manufactured (and world leading!) inverter
have already been successful in allowing power to be fed back to the
grid. Bill Currie (PHW) explains the complex process: "The turbine has
to start, be held by the controller at idle speed while the inverter
wakes up, checks the grid is suitable to be connected to, (e.g. no
lines people out there working) and synchronises with the AC voltage.
The turbine controller then has to start feeding power to the inverter
and telling it how much power to take to load the turbine correctly."
There's some perfectioning still going on, and investment needed
before Thinair turbines are rolling out the factory door, so please do
contact PHW if you want to know more about investing in local
innovative green tech for a sustainable future
(http://www.powerhousewind.co.nz/).

Blueskin Power is more than just big wind. The community turbine is
the keystone at present, as success here will allow so much more to
happen. But there is a further generation opportunity that may be
complementary, parallel, or alternative, depending on how we manage
the challenges ahead. This is integrating smaller household generation
into our local grid, via (for example) more Thinair turbines and
household Photovoltaic 1-2 kW arrays. Both these generation options
can use the same Enasolar inverters and will ensure progressively
greater local grid resilience with returns to individual households.
And the whole system can then be made so much more 'intelligent' with
Smart 'real-time' meters and intelligent home devices, giving power
back to the people!

More regular updates are sent out via the WEP update email or you can
contact me directly either at 03 4822048 / 0274888314 or
waitatienergy@gmail.com

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