Having recently come through high-quality certification testing more in tune with the bigger wind turbine makers, medium scale wind power developer Norvento is well-placed to provide its solutions to the UK’s small scale industrial operations.

Ivo Arnús, the firm’s Director of UK Business Development spoke to COSPP about the particular advantages of Norvento’s technology and how it hopes to capitalise in the UK.
Norvento wind turbine
Among the company’s chief concerns at the moment are the Shoreham port project, near Brighton in southern England as well as the powering of a large dairy farm. It recently launched a new, extended 24-metre rotor for its nED100 turbine, capable of increasing the Annual Energy Production (AEP) of the 100kW machine by 8% on average.

With a 10% Feed-in Tariff degression planned for April 2015, the new rotor will help landowners considerably lessen the impact of this anticipated revenue loss and further bring down energy costs on site.

Ivo Arnús told COSPP the new nED100 is well suited where power is needed on-site for various reasons.

“Firstly our active and reactive power control which got us over the line in winning the port project. Our turbines can control the active power that supplies to the grid and also the reactive power as and when required. It can either absorb or inject reactive power; this was very useful for the port as the port is operating very old pumps, probably 40-50 years old which don’t even have slow starters.”

The company proposes to provide two nED100 turbines to power on-site water pumps that keep the basins of the port at the right level despite changes in the tide.

“We analysed the consumption profile of those pumps at the millisecond level and we saw how the pumps trebled the intensity when started, a spike of 1200 amps when they were usually consuming something like 400.”

The power electronics associated with the equipment also present an advantage.

“Our (full back-to-back) converters uses low voltage ride-through technology (LVRT) so whenever there is a grid loss we can smooth it out and still operate. This is something really valuable across the UK because it is clear that the grid over here is not really strong and there are considerable grid faults at the moment. The port development is very important for us as the idea would be to roll out that model to other ports and marinas in the UK.”

Norvento originated in Spain but the country’s reversal of policy on renewables has impacted on its ability to provide its technology there, as the whole incentive structure was brought to an end when the company was introducing its products.

Within the UK the company is in consultation with ports, marinas, water utilities (to install the equipment in their water treatment plants), as well as projects in rural and farm environments such as dairy and poultry farms.

Britain’s feed-in-tariffs have made medium scale wind facilities an attractive proposition.

“The way the feed in tariffs are structured in the UK incentivise on-site consumption because at the end of the day, the price you get from the power exported to the grid is lower than the price of the power you pay to the grid for your own consumption. The tariffs are designed precisely with that intention so it’s a great incentive to consume on-site.”
 
The new 24 metre rotor is a response by Norvento to the ongoing process of tariff degression.. However the extended blade is set to increase productivity, without compromising existing noise reduction and visibility features. The company believes this will compensate for any negative legislation.

“We have increased the diameter and tried to minimise impact elsewhere. The blade tip has increased one metre, the noise is kept to the same levels and we maintained the peak speed ratio. The efficiency has increased by 8-10 per cent, which is significant.
Norvento wind turbine
In order to make it even more appealing Norvento decided not to increase the price. This is despite the fact that the UK’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT)-supported 15kW-500kW small and medium wind market is set to be undermined in the coming years by an aggressive tariff degression system that has not given the industry time to enact a proportional reduction in supply chain costs.

“We’ve done this to tackle the digression of the FiT. Recent media reports regarding the practice of turbine de-rating have given the impression that there is a generous support mechanism in place, and, while this might be the case in some specific FiT bands, we should not generalise across the whole scheme, as, in reality, the feed-in-tariff is a finite resource – and is running out faster than the industry can keep up with.”

“The FiT is going to reduce by 10 per cent within a month so the whole ideas is to bring in this rotor to give the customer a neutral effect from that degression.”

Norvento has also experienced a rigorous test of all of its processes and materials over the last two years by undergoing IEC61400-1 certification with TUV SUD, which it successfully completed in the autumn.

The company is producing, as a result, the only 100kw turbine in the world with that level of certification.

If you even compare us to other bigger 500kw turbines we are one of the very few brands that have it. None in our competitor landscape have it.

The certification shows that Norvento’s turbines have a strong longevity, capable of surviving for 20 if not 30 years.

“Certainly the design certification has changed and improved our design to a certain extent and we have had to improve our architecture and some of the interfaces between the blade and hub and some of the blade design – we have gone through a very detailed inspection leading to a more reliable durable wind turbine.”

The last part of the certification, and the most difficult to pass involves the rotor, with safety measures more commonly associated with the larger wind turbine manufacturers.

“We have undergone the same testing as big players like Enercon and Vestas etc in their turbines. The ability to withstand lightning really important as turbines stick out 120 metres from the ground and have to be very resistant.”

“Our turbines can take lightning of class 1 which is 300,000 Amperes and at least be able to stop in a safe manner – the turbine is safe in taking lightning of that intensity.”

Legislatively, new rulings emerging from Brussels are cause for optimism for the future of the sector, and as European law in the area evolves and is accepted among member states, Arnús says the company is well-placed.

“I’m seeing some implementation of the grid codes which will help us. We know any changes to the grid code coming from Brussels will benefit us here in the UK because the new changes Brussels want to implement are already taken into account in our design.”

 Because the Spanish grid is slightly tougher than the UK and we were originally required to comply with those. Anything that gets more stringent we are comfortable with. Bear in mind, for example, the grid code in the UK still treats wind turbines – with fixed pitch, asynchronous (induction) generators and no inverters whatsoever – in the same way as ours, with pitch control, synchronous generator, and a full back to back converter. It’s outdated legislation and we expect it to change in future as it puts too much pressure on the grid.”

For now the pipeline of Norvento projects completed and under development in the UK continues to grow, with over 4 MW at various stages of development and a further 3 MW in screening.