The LIFE REWIND Project: PV energy as a viable and cost-effective alternative for rural environments

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The European project LIFE REWIND aims to facilitate the incorporation of renewable energy into agricultural activities, using the wine sector as a demo. REWIND stands for Renewable Energy in the Wine Industry. Its full name “Small scale, cost-effective renewable energy systems in the agro-food industry and rural areas: a demonstration project in the wine sector”, clearly explains its objective. As a tool to help meet the objectives of Europe’s environmental policy, its €1,562,994 budget is co-financed by the European Commission. LIFE REWIND is running for 37 months and is being implemented by a consortium comprising the University of Zaragoza, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and its LIFTEC laboratory, the wine producer Viñas de Vero S.A. and the engineering firm Intergia Energía Sostenible S.L.

To date, renewable energy for power generation has incorporated the electrical grid in the form of relatively large gensets, both in the case of wind power and that of PV. This replicates the same centralised layout that would be required when thermal plants, nuclear power stations or large hydraulic facilities are involved. Producing electricity in this way at the same point of consumption would be economically unviable, apart from dirty and dangerous. As a result, a complex and costly transmission and distribution network was required. However, this scenario changes where renewable generation is involved, especially when PV is concerned. The solar resource is near-ubiquitous and is uniformly distributed. PV generation can be constructed from less than 1 kW up to many MWs with hardly any economies of scale. Added to which, the centralised system is extremely expensive to construct and maintain with considerable energy losses occurring in transmission and distribution, the time has come to consider the possibility of in situ generation as an alternative.

 

Generation for self-consumption can take place in both a grid-connected and an off-grid installation. In the first instance, the possibility of ceding or absorbing power from the grid is a help, with no need for storage. Producing energy at the point of consumption avoids transmission losses and allows a reduction of downloads from the grid, which is good for the consumer and the system alike. In the case of off-grid self-consumption, the sizing and the management of the system are critical in order to avoid a very high cost or a high probability of failure in demand coverage. Read more..

Javier Carroquino Oñate
LIFE REWIND European project coordinator

Article published in: FuturENERGY January-February 2017