Energizing Rural Communities through AgWind

By Lloyd Ritter, DWEA Policy Director

Together with Texas USDA specialists and others, AgWind, DWEA’s Justice40-focused outreach to agricultural markets designed to boost DW installations across rural America, is hosting a community workshop unveiling the “AgWind Feasibility Assessment” site evaluation tool at the San Patricio Fairgrounds on June 18.

As part of HeroX-funded outreach to address higher energy costs faced by rural and remote communities, lack of awareness of reliable DW solutions, siting concerns, and other key market barriers, DWEA is mailing postcards to 500+ nearby farmers and ranchers and partnering with USDA and other diverse stakeholders to energize on-site wind development in the Texas Gulf coast.

AgWind is seeking to empower and educate rural communities about DW incentives and potential earnings to enhance energy independence and economic resilience, beginning with pilot efforts in this underserved rural Texas community. AgWind’s approach, engaging directly with rural property owners as well as local leaders, ensures locally-owned wind installations align with local values and needs. AgWind is gathering community input and developing meaningful connections to replicate in other rural communities and ramp up adoption of DW systems with resources for planning and maintaining DW installations.

Through DWEA’s Hero-X Prize and other pending grant applications, AgWind is working to develop a suite of technical assistance services, including the site screening and multi-model “Wind Turbine Performance & Economics Evaluation Tool” to help rural landowners assess wind energy earnings potential for their specific properties. Reports from the AgWind Tool can be used for USDA REAP applications.

AgWind’s workshop and Tool will showcase DW’s transformative power helping communities build local resilience and control energy expenses with reliable on-site power. AgWind highlights how DW projects create jobs, stimulate local economies, and support communities in achieving climate goals. Beyond DW education, AgWind offers tailored wind resource assessments, connecting property owners with wind energy dealers, developers, service providers, and financing options, including incentives.

In this first workshop, AgWind will spotlight for Texas Gulf Coast property owners and community leaders the USDA REAP program as well as no-cost AgWind site screenings, feasibility analyses, and financial referrals for personalized guidance to address energy goals, making it easy to assess wind potential and jumpstart rural DW development.

Keep an eye on www.AgWindEnergy.org for updates on this important DWEA initiative!

Ryse Energy Expands Micro Wind Turbine Portfolio with Primus Wind Power Acquisition

Ryse Energy Expands Micro Wind Turbine Portfolio with Primus Wind Power Acquisition

Ryse Energy on July 12 announced the acquisition of Primus Wind Power, a large and long-time manufacturer of micro wind turbines. Both companies are DWEA members. “This acquisition will enable us to offer our clients in international markets a wider, more diverse offering of high-performance wind turbines and hybrid renewable energy systems, whilst it fast-tracks our growth in the Americas and unlocks significant potential in nearby markets,” said Alistar Munro, CEO and founder of U.K.-based Ryse Energy in a press release. “We are excited about the future of the AIR turbines within the Ryse Energy portfolio,” added Ken Kotalik, Director of Global Sales and Operations for Primus Wind Power, based in Lakewood, Colorado.

The Primus Wind Power AIR turbines will become part of the broader small turbine portfolio (3-60 kW capacity) provided by Ryse Energy. More than 180,000 AIR turbines have been installed worldwide since 1995. With CSA approval to UL and CSA specifications, Primus Wind Power’s AIR turbines have been used in a range of applications, including marine, telecoms, military, residential, and more. Ryse Energy boasts more than 180,000 installations across seven continents. The company offers wind and solar standalone technologies either grid-connected or off-grid with energy storage, and “hybridizes” its wind technology with solar PV and energy storage to “create bespoke and reliable hybrid renewable solutions across a variety of sectors, from decarbonizing infrastructure such as telecoms and O&G, to community power for rural electrification.” Learn more about Ryse Energy here.

Windurance Develops Pioneering Servo-Electric Blade Pitch Actuator Tech

Windurance Develops Pioneering Servo-Electric Blade Pitch Actuator Tech

Founded in 2000, Windurance is recognized as the pioneer of servo-electric blade pitch actuator technology for utility-scale wind turbines in widespread use throughout the industry today. Turbines using full span pitch regulation deliver higher annual energy production and offer net lower cost of energy. Reduction in acoustic noise is realized, and other advantages. With shared investment from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Competitiveness Improvement Project, Windurance has created the compact, low-cost servo electric blade pitch actuator for the Distributed Wind Energy turbines from 50 kW to 1500 kW scale, called miniPitch. This servo actuator package supports collective and individual pitch control strategies and offers unique turbine safety features in an advanced brushless motor control technique. Integral ultracapacitor energy storage and other special protection features provide for zero voltage ride-through (ZVRT) and high voltage protection and ride-through operation (HVRT), eliminating the need for any other backup power.

These and other features combine to make UL 6141 and UL 6142 certification of individual triune designs much easier with Windurance providing turbine-specific DFMEA and other support in conjunction with the fundamental miniPitch design properties.The miniPitch actuator design hosts a rich environment of control and condition monitoring data features. Built-in, high-order, pitch trajectory generator makes the implementation of turbine control strategies easy. This aerospace command generator constrains bale pitch motion according to the response capabilities of the blade and turbine structures. While miniPitch is essentially a maintenance-free product, pitch actuator condition and service life data are collected, binned, and stored on board the Pitch Control Unit. This historical information is a direct reflection of the turbine operational service life experience. The data can be accessed remotely to evaluate individual site conditions, and to predict turbine service maintenance schedules. With more than 23 years of experience in wind turbine subsystem designs, Windurance offers a mature pitch actuator design optimization service through the post-processing of aeroelastic models that map to dimensioning all elements of the servo actuator system. To help wind turbine OEMs evaluate the value of using pitch control, Windurance offers these services at no charge. Learn more about Windurance and its technologies here.  

USDA Announces $21 Million in REAP Grants

USDA Announces $21 Million in REAP Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Karama Neal on July 13 announced that USDA is making $21 million in technical assistance grants available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses access federal funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

“The technical assistance grants I am announcing today will provide hands-on support to farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners seeking federal funds for renewable energy systems, like wind and solar, and energy efficiency measures,” Neal said in a press release. “These investments not only help producers and small businesses lower energy costs, but also access new markets and strengthen their operations.”

Eligible recipients for these grants include state, Tribal or local governments; colleges and universities; electric cooperatives and utility companies; and for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Recipients may use the funds to: 

·    Help rural agricultural producers and small business owners apply for REAP funding.

·    Provide information on how business owners and agricultural producers can improve the energy efficiency of their operations and use renewable energy technologies and resources.

·    Conduct required energy assessments and audits.

·    Help agricultural producers and small business owners plan, build or develop renewable energy or energy efficiency projects.

Projects eligible for funding can be located in eligible rural areas in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories, USDA said.

This announcement is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and the Bidenomics strategy to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, drive over $500 billion in private-sector manufacturing investments, create jobs, and build a clean-energy economy to tackle the climate crisis and make communities more resilient. REAP is also part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is advancing environmental justice by ensuring that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments reach disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.

USDA said it will “give funding priority to applicants proposing to assist disadvantaged communities, applicants pursuing projects using underutilized technologies and applicants seeking grants under $20,000.”

The Department also encourages interested applicants to contact their USDA Rural Development state office.

For this round of REAP funding, paper or electronic applications must be received by the USDA RD State Office (RDSO) of the State where the project is located to be eligible for funding under this grant opportunity by Aug. 15.

For additional information, see the July 13 Federal Register notice.

Empowering Communities: Exploring the Potential of Wind and Solar Hybrid Microgrids

Empowering Communities: Exploring the Potential of Wind and Solar Hybrid Microgrids

During a 2022 visit to Puerto Rico, Dr. Rachid Darbali-Zamora, a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories met with community members and discussed some of the challenges associated to deploying different renewable energy technologies in remote rural regions of the island. Photo Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.
By Sandia National Laboratories

As the world shifts towards using more sustainable energy alternatives, distributed wind can become a key player, supporting electricity generation in communities. Distributed wind systems, coupled with solar and energy storage, have the potential to significantly enhance the renewable energy mix. These solar and wind hybrid microgrids have the potential to promote energy independence, environmental consciousness and increase community resilience.

Hybrid microgrids can empower communities by providing a resilient and sustainable energy solution that can operate independently from the main grid during instances when grid power is not readily available. By combining wind, solar and energy storage technologies, hybrid microgrids enable communities to generate electricity on-site. The Wind Hybrid Integration Platform (WHIP) is a three-year Department of Energy project funded through the Wind Energy Technology Office that started last October. This project is led by Dr. Rachid Darbali-Zamora of the Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration program at Sandia National Laboratories. The objective of the project is primarily to design and develop a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS), considering wind, solar and energy storage assets. The main research is to identify advantages that distributed wind can provide that have not been looked at. The locations we are evaluating are in Puerto Rico, Alaska and Texas. Using Sandia National Laboratories’ Power Hardware-in-the-Loop platform at the Distributed Energy Technology Laboratory, we plan on testing these controls with actual wind turbine power converters.

Remote villages in Alaska, such as St. Mary’s and Kotzebue, are examples of communities that have tapped into the power of distributed wind. These Alaskan communities face unique energy challenges, often relying on expensive diesel generators. However, distributed wind systems are transforming the energy landscape, harnessing the region’s abundant wind resources. The integration of solar and energy storage with these wind systems provides a stable and reliable renewable energy power supply, reducing the dependency on costly and carbon-intensive diesel. These hybrid microgrids offer Alaskan communities a sustainable solution, ensuring continuous access to electricity.

In a similar manner, Puerto Rico, an island still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, could benefit from distributed wind. The island’s vulnerable centralized power grid suffered extensive damage during the hurricane, leaving many communities without electricity for months. In response, Puerto Rico has embraced the implementation of renewable energy, like solar. By integrating distributed wind with solar and energy storage, some communities can fortify its energy infrastructure, enhancing resilience and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Distributed wind power, together with solar and energy storage, can ensure a more resilient and sustainable power supply.

The journey towards a sustainable future requires collaborative efforts and innovative solutions. Distributed wind power, in combination with solar and energy storage, has the ability to empower communities, enabling them to forge a path toward energy independence, environmental sustainability and enhanced resilience. As the renewable energy technology continues to evolve, the potential of distributed wind power combined with solar and energy storage remains a promising solution, ensuring a brighter and cleaner future.