Thank you to the Program Manager at Centennial College for Contributing to this article.
Technical and financial evaluation of wind turbines for commercialization with hybrid off-grid street lights carried out at Centennial College of Toronto, Ontario
Every year local, provincial and federal governments across Canada use billions of kilowatt hours of electricity to power streetlights and lamps to illuminate public roads, urban streets, and walking paths. It will not surprise you that the amount of electricity required for this tremendous expense is often fed through conventional power lines; and it is common knowledge that the source of the electricity at the opposite end of those lines creates waste, along with every kilowatt they generate.
But what if we could reduce that amount to zero?
Canadian Government Funding Supports Testing of Alternative Energy Sources for Powering Streetlights
As a part of an applied research project at Centennial College, students and faculty have been working to identify the best wind turbine rotor design available to maximize power output for the low, often turbulent wind regimes found in urban areas while minimizing the cost of generation. Grants from the Canadian government helped support this project.
Grants from the Canadian Government Support Testing of Off-Grid Hybrid Streetlights
The work involved carrying out a comparative performance evaluation of three different types of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) that were installed on the top of off-grid Hybrid Street-lights powered by solar photovoltaic panels, wind turbine and batteries. Wind turbine power output and wind data (speed, direction) were measured, and both the technical and the financial aspects of VAWTs were evaluated. A test-site for VAWTs was created by setting up 2 low-cost poles having the same height as streetlights with a versatile top interface on which several VAWTs can be installed and tested.
The test-site is at the Progress Campus of Centennial College where wind data has been recorded at 20m and 30m levels since 2006. Centennial has also been recording wind speeds and directions on top of 3 streetlights at the Progress Campus since December 2010.
Centennial College Carries Out Testing with Help of Funding through Canadian Government Grants
Centennial College’s project complimented two past projects that were also undertaken by the college:
- “Virtual optimization of Global Power Design’s wireless, hybrid controller for street-lighting applications” – carried out with through support from a Ontario government funding from CONII , September 2010 – January 2011.
- “Off-grid Street Light System – Validation and Optimization (Wind/SolarPV/Battery Hybrid System with Wireless Data Transfer)” – Canadian government grants support has recently been approved under another FedDev small business grants program for Centennial College and Global Power Design.
Centennial College Research Helps Illuminate Bottleneck to Commercialization
While implementing the first project on Virtual Optimization and designing the second project on Validation and Optimization, it became clear that the wind turbine is a critical component that is proving to be a major bottleneck to commercialization of this green technology. EfstonScience has already sold a small number of Off-Grid Hybrid Streetlights in Canada and the USA, but, large-scale commercialization has been constrained by the high cost and low power output of the Savonius type wind turbine used. To address this issue, a comparative technical performance and financial evaluation of three types of VAWTs was carried out in order to select the best VAWT design. This is especially critical for the low wind speed regimes found in the GTA and most other urban centers, since some rotor designs are able to generate more power in low wind speeds than others.
Canadian Small Business Grants for Research and Development at Centennial College Available to Public
This project also designed a methodology for customizing optimized system design of “Enlighten Hybrid Streetlight” models for customers’ sites in North America. This methodology was demonstrated for a site near Chicago.
This is the type of applied research project that can be done in close partnership between Centennial College and the industry partner. Centennial College has great expertise and experience doing applied research in the field of Sustainable Energy, Healthcare Informatics and Aerospace. If you have a project that you think we could help you don’t hesitate to reach out to Eric Blaise, Aerospace Program Manager at Centennial’s Applied Research and Innovation Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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