Pioneers in hybridization of solar panels with wind turbine towers
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Through the project ACCIONA ENERGÍA has developed a pioneering solution at world level in the field of wind-photovoltaic energy hybridisation that consists of covering a wind turbine tower with flexible organic panels to produce energy for the internal electricity consumption of the turbine. This R&D project has studied both the performance of the organic panels –an emerging photovoltaic technology– and its application to improve the wind turbine efficiency.
The system has been installed in one of the turbines in the Breña wind farm (Albacete province) which ACCIONA ENERGÍA owns and operates. It is an AW77/1500 Nordex-Acciona Windpower machine standing on an 80-metre-high (hub height) steel tower.
One hundred and twenty solar panels have been stuck onto the tower, facing south-east and south-west to capture maximum solar energy throughout the day. They are distributed at 8 different levels and cover 50 metres of the tower. The photovoltaic modules have a total capacity of 9.36 kWP.
In contrast to conventional technology for manufacturing photovoltaic models based on silicon, the organic panels have carbon as their raw material. They are characterised by their structural flexibility –which makes them adaptable to a wide range of surfaces– and lower maintenance costs, less energy required for their manufacture, ease of deployment and the fact that all the materials used in their production can be recycled.
The immediate application of the project at Breña is to produce part of the energy needed by the internal systems of the wind turbine. When it is operational, part of the energy generated is used to drive its auxiliary systems. When the turbine is stopped, some systems need to continue functioning, so they are fed from the grid, meaning that the turbine records net energy consumption at the time.
The new photovoltaic system on the wind turbine tower means that all or part of the demand inherent to the functioning of a wind turbine can be covered when solar radiation is present. The organic panels are connected to two inverters that transform direct current into alternate current for connection to the network that feeds the electrical equipment of the wind turbine.
The entire system is monitored with the aim of evaluating the adopted solution under real operating conditions, from the point of view of energy production and degradation of the solar panels. Conceptually, it is a very novel solution compared to existing experiments with wind–photovoltaic hybridisation based on the installation of panels on the ground.
- Location: Technological Innovation Department of Acciona
- Duration: January 2019 – December 2020
- Participants: Acciona
- Budget: €432,890
- Project with financing from the Spanish Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI)