Supervisors: Prof Markus Mueller University of Edinburgh
Sponsoring Company: Gaia Wind
PhD Student: Leong Kit Gan
Lack of affordable and reliable electricity supply is a major impediment to the development of many rural communities, particularly those remote from the existing electricity grid. This is especially true in developing countries, where off-grid systems are often the only practical solution for electricity generation. Traditionally, off-grid systems were based solely on diesel generators, but a significant rise in oil prices has made diesel-based systems uneconomic. Recent developments in renewable generation technologies allows the use of indigenous natural resources (wind, hydro, or photovoltaic) as alternative energy sources, but their intermittency typically results in inadequate energy supply for a substantial portion of the year. However, combining renewable energy sources with conventional diesel generation and energy storage systems in so called “hybrid renewable energy systems” (HRES) may provide reliable electricity supply with reduced battery storage and/or diesel requirements.
The expected research outcome is the design of a robust and fault-tolerant HRES management system, featuring higher efficiency and improved techno-economic performance. In particular, the hybrid system should utilise Gaia’s wind turbine (induction generator) instead of a permanent magnet based wind turbine which is often used in small-scale hybrid systems. It is a well-known fact that the robustness, reliability and economics of an induction machine is greater than a permanent magnet machine. The high start-up current of the induction generator should be taken into consideration while designing the hybrid system. In a wider context, the provision of an uninterrupted and high quality supply will promote economic development and industrialisation of rural areas, enhancing the welfare and standard of living. Within the project, the optimum sizing of hybrid system, power converter topologies and potential control strategies will be explored. Both modelling and experimental work will be involved in this project, with the latter to verify the former.