Spanish renewable energy and infrastructure group giant Acciona has begun trialling flexible organic solar photovoltaic modules on a wind turbine to produce energy for the turbine’s internal electricity consumption.
The move is being described by the company as “a pioneering solution at global level in the field of hybridization between wind and photovoltaic power” and will now allow ACCIONA to study the performance of the organic panels and their application to improve the efficiency of wind turbines.
A total of 120 flexible solar panels have been installed on a Nordex-Acciona Windpower AW77/1500 wind turbine at the 36MW Breña Wind Farm, in Albacete, Spain, and are distributed at eight different heights, occupying around 60 metres of the tower’s surface area.
The panels are designed to produce the energy needed by the wind turbine’s internal systems both during operation and in shutdown mode. Normally, a fraction of the electricity generated by the turbine would normally power these systems, but this hybrid combination could allow for greater wind turbine efficiency.
“The hybridization project in Breña means the optimization of the use of space for renewable energy production and it will enable us to test the efficiency of organic photovoltaics, a technology that we believe has one of the best improvement curves in terms of technological efficiency,” explained Belén Linares, Energy Innovation Director in Acciona. “That is why we have decided to pilot it.”
The Heliatek HeliaSol 308-5986 solar PV modules have an overall capacity of 9.36 kWp and measure in at only 1 millimetre thick, boasting a surface area of 5,986 x 308 mm.
The panels use carbon as the raw material for their construction and provide significant structural flexibility, making them adaptable to a number of different types of surfaces. The panels also boast lower maintenance costs, consume less energy during manufacture, and can be completely recycled. The downside, of course, is that they are still not quite as efficient as their silicon cousins.
Acciona is also envisioning a point in time when their hybrid solar and wind could also be paired with energy storage, so as to power the wind turbine’s systems day or night.
The trial project is being monitored with a view to evaluating it under real conditions, both from the point of view of energy production as well as the degradation of the solar modules.