Wind and solar combo
provides more reliable
power in remote locations
After more than two years of intensive research, system tinkering, and number crunching, Zenergy by West Central Telephone Association (WCTA) has completed development of a small wind and solar power kit for remote telecom equipment. The kit can also be used for other remote power needs such as farms and cabins.
On October 28th, 2010 the national Clean Energy States Alliance has awarded Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund with the State leadership in Clean Energy (SLICE) Award for providing funding support to Zenergy for the development and installation of remote small wind/solar hybrid renewable energy power kits for distributed generation. The SLICE awards recognize programs and projects that demonstrate leadership, effectiveness, and innovation in clean energy.
In accepting the 2010 SLICE award, John O’Donnell, Xcel Energy director of federal government affairs, said, “Shaping a clean energy future is one of today’s greatest challenges. the WCTA project is an excellent example of innovation and collaboration, and we are proud to have played a part in its success.”
Zenergy by WCTA’s Xcel RDF project was recognized at an awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on October 28, 2010, in conjunction with CESA’s biannual member meeting.
About the Xcel RDF Research Project
The research was funded by a $137,000 grant from the Xcel Renewable Development Fund (RDF)*, and a final presentation of the research project was made to the RDF Advisory Board in May, 2010.
For the research project, the Zenergy team installed five test systems at West Central Telephone’s remote switching nodes and collected data over several months to determine the technical and financial feasibility of using the kits to power the telecommunications equipment. They also experimented with different settings and system configurations to find the most efficient combinations for various applications.
The kits have been developed to provide backup power to the nodes for three days in a worst-case scenario of having absolutely no sun or wind resources, and indefinitely when green power is available. Each kit produces 2,245 kWh annually on average, offsetting 4,500 pounds of carbon dioxide, seven pounds of sulfur dioxide, and over one-half gram of mercury. (One gram of mercury is enough to contaminate a small lake.) Each kit will also offset the use of over 30,000 gallons of fresh water per year used to produce electricity.
The payback periods for the five different setups were based on the grants and rebates available at the time of the research, and were found to range from 10 to 15 years, using a modest estimate of 5 percent electric rate increases, and not including the potential financial gains from advertising, and renewable energy and/or carbon credits.
Market research performed as part of the study showed that in addition to the large potential of the telecom market, where reliable backup power is an inherent and vital cost of doing business, many other markets might benefit from the remote power kits, including ranches, cabins, weather stations, and even developing nations.
The project included designing a remote internet-based monitoring software solution, as well as a custom equipment cabinet, both of which are now commercially available.
*Project funding provided by customers of Xcel Energy through a grant from the Renewable Development Fund.