The Wind Energy Roadmap, which was published by the European Commission (EC) on October 7th, 2009, and was presented and discussed at the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) workshop, will play a key role in fighting climate change and in helping EU Member States to meet the 2020 targets identified by the new RES Directive of December 2008, which sets the following goals for the wind energy sector:
- A wind energy penetration level of 20% in 2020.
- Onshore wind power fully competitive in 2020.
- 250.000 new skilled jobs created in the EU by the wind energy sector in the 2010 – 2020 period.
Currently, the major application of wind power is electricity generation from large grid-connected wind farms. However, following the changing trend of the energy sector from a centralized energy system to a distributed one, small wind systems and its hybrid applications are expected to play an increasingly important role in the forthcoming years, meaning a higher share in the energy generation. With the support of the smart grid technology and fostered by the directives and regulation associated to the sector, small wind turbines (SWTs) can now be connected to the electrical grid from the consumer-end and, little by little, contribute to the stabilization of the electrical grid. Due to this fact, small-scale wind energy has now been applied in fields such as mobile communication base stations, offshore aquaculture, agricultural and farming and sea-water desalination, among others, in several countries. Besides this scenario, the integration of small wind energy in urban and peri-urban areas is being a challenge due to the barriers the technology has at this stage of development.
The main objective of the SWIP project is to develop and validate innovative solutions for small and medium size wind turbines to improve their competitiveness, enabling and facilitating the integration and deployment into urban and peri-urban areas.
The new and innovative solutions will address the current barriers (turbulence, noise, vibration, aesthetic aspect, cost of technology, wind resource assessment, wind market, user friendliness, social acceptance and safety) that delay the market uptake of this technology. These solutions will: reduce the costs of the electric generator of wind turbines, providing two new concepts for energy generation; increase the Cp ratio of the blades, so that the number of hours that the SWT is producing increases by 9%, highly softening or even eliminating the mechanical and acoustic noise they currently produce; reduce the maintenance costs of the SWTs up to 40% by including two innovative elements (SCADA for preventive maintenance and magnetic gearbox) in the SWTs and improving the integration of the wind turbines in buildings and districts with more aesthetic solutions.
The project will develop three different prototypes to be integrated in three different scenarios (new energy efficient building, shore-line and industrial area), to validate the solutions and goals aimed, providing scalable solutions for different applications, covering several user needs.
Moreover, the project will improve the current methodologies for wind resource assessment into urban and peri-urban areas, reducing the RMS error in wind speed estimation until 8%, minimizing the risk and the opportunity costs of the small and medium size wind turbines when they are integrated in these environments.
SWIP Project will last 3 years and 8 months and is coordinated by CIRCE. Altogether, the project involves 13 partners from 10 different countries in the EU, covering the most relevant stakeholders: six SME, one large industry, five research centres and one public authority.