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How to choose the best renewable energy station for a particular place

  • Mohamed Abdullah
  • Renewable energy engineer, Focus in climate change mitigation in Egypt. Currently working for Aldar Consulting Engineers. Working for projects in (solar energy, wind energy, biogas and waste management ). Working for some companies in Egypt like (OTAK Trading and Contracting, Triple M Construction, Eco Solar, RGS, Sun Power Misr and Tiba Solar Factory). Also Some associations and movements to mitigate climate change, such as Ain Elbeeah Aassociation and AYCM ( Arab Youth Climate Movement). Interested in all projects and innovations in climate change mitigation like renewable energy, electrical car and waste management.

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How to choose the best renewable energy station for a particular place

When we choose a specific area to set up a renewable energy station, especially on the public level, we are confused about which renewable energy station to choose. The options vary between solar power plants using solar panels, thermal concentrated solar power plants, wind stations that depend on the speed of the wind, and biogas energy. The selection of the most appropriate renewable energy station becomes tricky, especially if the place is with a hangover.

In this article, I will explain the elements on which the choice of renewable energy sources is best for such a place with the support of real-life examples from Egypt. 

From my perspective, there are six essential elements to choosing the best renewable energy source for a particular location. These are listed below:

 

1-Initial Cost (Capital Cost)

a. For an on-grid PV system 

For a small scale PV installed:

The price of one kW installed from a PV system is approximate to $1000 (Price for PV system until the point of standard coupling (PCC) not including the price of the transformer). 

Source: From practical work in Egypt for solar energy companies. 

For a Large scale PV installed:

As approximate from Benban Project, a total of $1.8 billion, producing almost 1.5 GW of solar power.

Therefore, the price of one KW installed from a PV system is equivalent to 1200 $ (the price includes the PV system, transformers and transmission lines).

b. For Biogas

The price of one KW installed from Biogas is equivalent to $2000 (this is the price for all biogas components, including gas turbine until the point of PCC and not including the cost of the transformer).

Source: Practical project in Egypt in Kafr Sheikh. 

Two Million $ for one Megawatt output power.

c. For wind

According to the applications from Gabal El-Zeit project in Egypt, the initial cost was approximately $670.64 million. The overall capacity of the three projects is 580 Megawatts (On Shore Wind Turbines). Therefore, the price of one KW installed from Wind Energy is equivalent to $1155 (The price includes wind turbines, transformers and transmission lines) [1].

The team conducted this comparison for each renewable energy source proposed for the project. The team then selected the best price and lowest price.

 

2- LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy)

The method of Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) makes it possible to compare power plants of a different generation and cost structures with each other. The primary thought is that one forms the sum from all accumulated costs for building and operating a plant and comparing this figure to the sum of the annual power generation. This application then yields to the so-called LCOE in USD per kWh.

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LCOE of Egypt in 2016 [2]

 

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Expected LCOE for Egypt in 2035 [2]

 

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The team conducted this comparison for each renewable energy source proposed for the project. The team then selected the best price and lowest price.

 

3- Capacity factor 

The net capacity factor of a power plant would be the ratio of its actual output over a certain time period to its potential output if it were possible for it to operate at full nameplate capacity indefinitely.

The team shall calculate the capacity factors for all sources that may be used in this area, compare them and select the one with the best number in capacity factor.

Example of capacity factors for some CSP technologies [3].

 

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Another example of capacity factor is for Zaafaranah place in Egypt from Wind Atlas [4]. 

The capacity factor for wind in Zaafaranah is equivalent to 60%.

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The team compared the capacity factor of each renewable energy source proposed for the project and selected the best Capacity Factor, meaning the highest Capacity Factor.

 

 

4- Diversity in energy sources

Now, we are aware that there are some types of renewable energies are more affordable than other sources. However, diversity is essential for safety and reasonable policy for any country. Therefore, we can use solar, wind, biomass, hydropower and tidal not only for financial reasons but for diversity in sources and safety for this country.

 

5- Ease of maintenance

There is a famous rule that says whenever there are mechanics; there is a need for maintenance. For example, in solar panel stations, we find that in fixed stations, there is a lower maintenance requirement. The lower maintenance is because it is limited to cleaning the solar panels over specific periods, with the follow-up of measurements for some electronic devices such as solar inverters and protection tools.

However, in the case of using solar stations with a solar tracking system, we find that maintenance increases due to the presence of mechanical parts such as the motor. Therefore, we need to lubricate some parts and review the sensors and clean them more frequently.

As stated by Engineer Sayed Mansour, Head of the Wind Turbine Maintenance Department at the New and Renewable Energy Authority in Egypt, Wind Energy requires a lot of maintenance due to a large number of mechanical parts. In his book,  Installation, Operation and Maintenance of Wind Turbines, he explains how Wind Energy also includes the use of a feather washing machine to wash the turbine blades and get rid of the dust and bird waste accumulated on its surface. The accumulation of dust causes a loss of energy generated by the turbine of up to 10%. Other maintenance mentioned in the book includes the lubrication of some parts of the system.

This information proves that education is vital for this field. For instance, in Egypt, when we went to establish the Benban solar plant with a capacity of 1650 megawatts in Aswan, the Ministry of Education took a great initiative in setting up a technical school. It opened a solar energy department in Aswan near the solar station so that its students' graduate and work there later.

The team conducted a comparison for each renewable energy source proposed for the project and selected the system with the least and easiest maintenance. 

 

6- Less harmful to environmental 

It is essential to choose a station type that has less impact on the environment. For instance, for wind stations, we find that migratory birds encounter a risk of collision with them. This issue, however, does have a solution. An example is a project completed in cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and the New and Renewable Energy Authority in Egypt for the conservation of migratory soaring birds. The project contributed to preventing migratory birds colliding with turbines by following them up and stopping the turbines as they approached them in the On Shore Wind Turbines project in Gabal El-Zeit. 

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Gabal El-Zeit, Egypt

 

The team completed this comparison for each renewable energy source proposed for the project and chose the least dangerous and harmful to the environment. 

 

Conclusion

Finally, we should make this table to see the general picture and the best source of renewable energy for any place. 

 

PV

CSP

Wind

Bio-gas

  1. Initial Cost

 

 

 

 

  1. LCOE

 

 

 

 

  1. Capacity Factor

 

 

 

 

  1. Diversity of energy sources

 

 

 

 

  1. Ease of maintenance

 

 

 

 

  1. Less dangerous to environmental

 

 

 

 

 

References

[1] Https://www.egypttoday.com/article/2/62730/2018-the-year-of-new-renewable-energy.

[2] Electricity cost from renewable energy technologies in Egypt December 2016 by Fraunhofer Institute for solar energy systems.

[3] Hybridization of existing thermal power stations with solar collection fields prepared by: dr. Mohamed Salah Elsobki (jr.) Se.

[4] Https://globalwindatlas.info/.

 

 

Engineer. Mohamed Abdallah

 


COMMENTS (4)
John Doe

Mohamed Abdullah

November 30, 2020 at 02:40 PM

Dear Mr. Aubai, thank you for These additions, Best regards.