October 11th, 2018
Saving diesel off the grid
The majority of small islands and remote communities still rely on diesel generators for electricity supply, which is risky business with volatile fossil fuel costs as well as dependence on outside transportation and storage. These two factors make powering a remote community excessively costly. In the past renewable energy sources have been overlooked due to high implementation costs as well as aesthetic reasons, however it is becoming a much more viable option with initiatives such as Kitepower, which is both inexpensive and virtually invisible.
By using an additional Kitepower system in combination with batteries, diesel generators can be switched off completely while remaining available as backup in case of low wind. Traditionally, a number of diesel generators would run idle to be able to ramp up quickly in case of fast increase in energy demand. Kitepower can instead provide energy directly into the microgrid allowing batteries to charge up with the energy surplus so being able to respond instantly to demand shifts hence avoiding idle generators. This hybrid system results in less diesel consumption for more power, culminating in considerable financial savings even for areas that don’t experience consistent high wind speeds.
If financial incentive isn’t enough, one should also consider the benefits of increased independence. The Kitepower systems are comparatively easy and quick to install as well as manoeuvre: ensuing low maintenance and enhanced self-sufficiency. Airborne wind energy systems work extremely well on islands due to high coastal winds ensuring strong steady power generation. These areas also tend to suffer more extreme weather conditions and subsequent power outages, however Kitepower is ‘hurricane proof’, culminating in more reliable as well as cheaper energy. These qualities are highlighted in Kitepower’s involvement in relief efforts, where modular and mobile 20ft ground stations can be deployed for quick energy supply after natural disasters (see bid-book for the recovery campaign on Saint Martin Island in 2017 after it was hit by hurricane Irma.).
It is now possible for remote communities to reap the benefits of renewable energy sources; healthier and more independent living with the added bonus of saving a “little” cash.
Lastly, there is the all-important green motivation. Renewable energy sources do exactly what they say on the tin: there is not a finite source amount so once these systems are in place they will continue to generate. This means they can help to significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, the use of fossil fuels being a main culprit of this. As aforementioned the location can impact the effectiveness of these renewable energy sources however the payoff is mammoth in well-suited areas, such as islands harnessing airborne wind energy systems, resulting in drastic reductions of emissions.