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Small hybrid systems: Solar and Wind electricity systems

Introduction

According to many renewable energy experts, a small "hybrid" electric system that combines wind and solar (photovoltaic) technologies offers several advantages over either single system.

In much of the United States, wind speeds are low in the summer when the sun shines brightest and longest. The wind is strong in the winter when less sunlight is available. Because the peak operating times for wind and solar systems occur at different times of the day and year, hybrid systems are more likely to produce power when you need it.

 

Many hybrid systems are stand-alone systems , which operate "off-grid"—not connected to an electricity distribution system. For the times when neither the wind nor the solar system are producing, most hybrid systems provide power through batteries and/or an engine generator powered by conventional fuels, such as diesel. If the batteries run low, the engine generator can provide power and recharge the batteries.

Adding an engine generator makes the system more complex, but modern electronic controllers can operate these systems automatically. An engine generator can also reduce the size of the other components needed for the system. Keep in mind that the storage capacity must be large enough to supply electrical needs during non-charging periods.

Battery banks are typically sized to supply the electric load for one to three days.

 

Advantages

  • Electricity can be generated constantly.
  • Solar energy is free - it needs no fuel and produces no waste or pollution.

  • In sunny countries, solar power can be used where there is no easy way to get electricity to a remote place.

  • Handy for low-power uses such as solar powered garden lights and battery chargers
  • Wind is free, wind farms need no fuel.

  • Produces no waste or greenhouse gases.

  • The land beneath can usually still be used for farming.

  • Wind farms can be tourist attractions.

  • A good method of supplying energy to remote areas.

 

Disadvantages

  • The wind is not always predictable - some days have no wind.

 

 
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