Renewable energy systems have been a subject of contention in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), following the reduction of feed-in-tariffs by the European Union. There has been a feeling of uncertainty in the industry as to whether, indeed, the GCC would meet the UK requirement, imposed by the EU, to achieve 15% renewable energy production by 2020. Although the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has attempted to provide a mechanism to ensure that the reduction of FITs does not affect the smooth running of the renewable energy industry, there have been obvious constraints, experienced by the investors. Renewable energy systems often generate a considerable electric cost for commercial owners, even without feed-in-tariffs; however, the subsidy has augmented the rate, at which the industry produces power. According to prevailing forecasts data and national statistics, since the time when the Energy Saving Trust has provided UAE renewable industry with FIT subsidy, there has been an impressive increase in energy production using wind technology and solar photovoltaic systems.
Renewable Energy Report – GCC Region
The use of the wind and photovoltaic electricity has become a growing concern for many nations across the world. The efforts to propagate these forms of energy are aimed at gradually eliminating the use of fossil fuels. Similarly, the generation of electricity from non-renewable energy have a plethora of consequences, besides being exorbitant. Fossil fuels have been used as the ultimate source of energy since time immemorial. Although energy-saving proves to be an effective endeavor for some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, continual usage of fossil fuels has posed a great danger to the present and future generations, as well as to the entire globe. A study, held at the expense of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, has depicted that emission of greenhouse gas from industries, widely spread across the world, has augmented global warming to a significant extent. This reality has posed a grave threat to the environment, since accumulation of these gasses in the atmosphere has reached an alarming proportion, as compared to the preceding research, conducted by the same institutional body in 1996 (Wengenmayr & Bührke, 2013). The latest research has provoked the United Kingdom to introduce the National Renewable Energy Action Plan and to hold a conference on possible mechanisms to alleviate the imminent threat of climate change. The plan suggested the introduction of the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) subsidy to encourage the production of energy through renewable sources. The renewable sources included solar panels, windmills, biomass and biogas, and others. This report focuses on wind and photovoltaic systems being used to produce electricity in a clean and inexhaustible way. The report pays particular attention photovoltaic and wind power energy plants in United Arab Emirates in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. The report also delineates how renewable sources of energy have mitigated environmental issues in the GCC region and why the national government of the UAE encourages households to embrace the use of renewable sources of energy.
Principles of Operation and Features of Photovoltaic Systems
Principle of Operation
The principle of operation of Photovoltaic Systems entails that when photon reaches a semiconductor, the negative intermediate surface of the polarity is forced to eject electrons, thereby leading to creation of two conductors. The conductors are represented by free electrons together with an electron hole. On the one hand, electrons that are released move upwards to the upper layer of the atmosphere; on the other hand, electron in the bottom layer are deflected from one atom to another, thus filling the empty space. These free electrons are conducted in the upper layer in order to enter the electronic field, in which the solar cell is ultimately situated. In such a way, electricity is produced for as long as sunlight continues to reach the solar panel. Notably, this method of electricity production is performed without any noise. It is also clean and has no byproducts. Finally, photovoltaic equipment operates automatically, without the need for maintenance. The direct electrical current, generated by solar panels, is, therefore, converted to 230 Volt AC, using an inverter.
Overview of Different PV Cells Designs
There are two general kinds of electrical designs for photovoltaic (PV) power systems for domestic use. These include systems that interrelate with a utility power grid and lack battery backup capability, as well as systems that interact and comprise battery backup.
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(i) Grid-Interactive Without Battery Backup
This system can operate only when a utility is available. Taking into account scarcity of utility outages, the system will engender utmost savings to customer’s bills per unit currency of investment. Nonetheless, in case of an outage, this system is designed in the way that enables shutting down until power supply to the utility is restored.
(ii) Grid-Interactive with Battery Backup
This kind of system integrates storage of energy in the form of a battery that saves critical load circuits inside the house due to its operation during the time of a utility outage. When an outage happens, the unit automatically disconnects from the utility, thereby powering certain circuits in the household. Wiring of the critical load circuits is done from a subpanel, which is detached from other electrical circuits (Abdelraouf & Luomi, 2016). During an outage, especially in daytime, photovoltaic array assists the battery to supply house loads. Conversely, when an outage happens at night, the available battery will then supply the load.
Characteristic Performance Curve
The performance curve is characterized by its swiftness in moving the liquid, contained in gallons. This pump is known to move about 12 gallons of liquid per minute. Besides, the curve depicts the amount of energy, required to avert the losses in delivery system of the fluid. This energy is referred to as total dynamic head per psi. The horsepower, needed to operate the pump, is also one of its main characteristics. This determines efficiency of the pump to increase engine performance to provide the requisite level of power generation.
Principles of Operation and Features of Wind Electricity Systems
Principle of Operation
Since the wind is air in motion, it often rises whenever the Earth heats up due to sunrays. Its rising is a balanced reaction, which is meant to cause cooling of the earth’s surface. Naturally, heat from the sun is felt more on lands, rather than on water masses. This phenomenon denotes that the air easily expands and reaches maximum altitudes before cooling down and moving in the form of the wind. In this case, wind energy can, therefore, be generated by converting kinetic energy via the process of friction into a useful form, such as mechanical or electric energy. Human beings then utilize these sources of energy for certain personal needs. For instance, during the ancient times, people built windmills to generate power that would grind grains into flour. Besides, they constructed mechanical wind pumps that were used for pumping massive quantities of water, used for irrigating their farms.
Overview of Different Wind Generator Designs
Resulting from arising wind power development technologies, as well as the significant growth of capacity of wind power units, installed worldwide, several types of wind turbines have emerged. The system of converting wind energy has, since then, become more cost-competitive, thus necessitating the appearance of various systems of wind generation. Regarding the overview of diverse wind-generating systems and their comparisons, classification of present-day wind turbines is made with consideration of both their controllers and drive train kinds. The strengths and limitations are also described, as well as types of successful use of permanent magnet generators. The work also includes a comparison and market penetration of various systems of wind generators.
An electronic regulator of the Verde wind turbine checks the current power output of the turbine numerous times in a second. At the moment when power output rises, the regulator sends a signal to the blade pitch mechanism that instantaneously turns rotor blades slightly out of the wind current. Later, when wind velocity decreases, these blades are shifted back towards the wind current. During normal operation these blades move one segment of a notch at a time, and the rotor blade turns likewise.
Comparing Geared Drive and Direct Drive Systems to Generators
The gear drive quotient of a single-stage gearbox is often selected as 6. Certain references propose higher gear ratios of 7, but, currently, it is not perceived as the proven technology, having a guaranteed lifetime. Pragmatically, commercially obtained gearboxes appear to be inexpensive, easy to use and have more phases for higher gear ratios. According to Bahgat (2015), a model with 1% viscous forfeiture of rated power per gearbox phase is a sensible one. This level implies that envisaged losses are proportionate to speed: Pgear = Pgearm n nrated (2). In this equation, Pgearm refers to the loss that occurrs in a gearbox at a given rated speed.
Concerning wind turbine modeling, calculation of existing shaft power P can be done as a function of wind velocity, as ,  P =1 2ρairCp(λ, θ)πr2v3w (1). In this case, ρair stands for density of air mass, r stands for the rotor radius of the wind turbine, and vw represents wind velocity, whereas Cp (λ, θ) signifies the coefficient of power or aerodynamic efficiency. This efficiency is a resultant function of tip promptness ratio λ and pitch angle θ.
Characteristic Performance Curve
When regarding a characteristic performance curve, a constructor often delineates performance of the pump graphically. This pump performance curve outlines connection between the head of the real pump and the flow rate. Other significant details for selection of a proper pump are also considered. These entail NPSH curve, efficient curves, different speeds, power consumption, as well as the pump curves for certain impeller diameters.
Augmentation of impeller diameter or velocity results in amplified head and flow rate capacity. Subsequently, this motion lifts the pump as well. Besides, head capacity can be enlarged by linking two or more pumps in a sequence. Similarly, flow rate capacity can also be inflated via connections of two or more pumps in a parallel series.
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Comparing Onshore Wind Farms to Offshore Wind Farms
Onshore wind energy is acclaimed as the most economical and advanced among all renewable innovations. On the one hand, even though offshore wind energy has lately proven to be a significant source of clean energy, it does not seem to be the best option to invest in due to its exorbitant cost. It is also immature and associated with innumerable developmental constraints. In fact, offshore wind farms are about 90% more expensive, as compared to generators that use fossil fuels. Likewise, according to the Telegraph, offshore wind farms have been proven to be 50% more expensive in comparison to nuclear farms (Bahgat, 2015). The high cost results from technical difficulties, related to construction of offshore turbine and linkage to the National Grid. Extra materials and construction are required to build turbines in water bodies, as well as investment in modern offshore technologies. On the other hand, onshore wind energy proves to be the cheapest renewable energy source that has been adopted by the United Arab Emirates. In fact, energy produced by onshore wind turbines is twice cheaper than that by offshore ones. Land wind farms are nearly as economically cheap as fossil fuels. Nonetheless, if ecological damage is considered, then cost of coal will be thrice that of onshore wind energy. Furthermore, offshore wind farms co-occur with numerous issues regarding development. Such matters include limited sites, latest consents, procedures, as well as objections from the Ministry of Defense of the UAE. The stated constraints largely prolong the period of developing wind farms and their payback.
Energy Potentials and Operational Efficiencies
Solar and Wind Energy Potentials and Geographical/Seasonal Variation
Generation of solar and wind-powered renewable electricity is hoped to utilize continent-sized linked electricity grids that will be constructed to eliminate power fluctuations and distribute it locally. Variation of systematic power output will serve as a manifest because photovoltaic energy has a clear diurnal period. Conversely, surface winds, influenced by surface temperatures, also follow intermittent diurnal behavior, characterized by a 4-hour delay. On a normal day, generation of a robust diurnal unpredictable renewable voltage emerges through the combination of wind and photovoltaic energy on a regional sized grid (Hamilton, 2015). In contrast to conceivable demand patterns, managing such systematically wavering generation requires high renewable energy storage, as well as conversion for timescales. Furthermore, insolation is modulated daily between naught and the maximum that relies on latitudinal configuration of earth and corresponding seasons. For instance, in the GCC region, there exists a factor of six between insolation during mid-summer and mid-winter. This occurrence results from condensed instant light intensity and the period of daylight.
Comparing Operational Efficiencies of Photovoltaic Systems and Wind Generators
The choice of equipment for renewable power is limited to solar panels and wind turbines. Selecting a better system between photovoltaic systems and wind generators depends on one’s geographical location, as well as the energy requirements.
Taking into consideration substantial investment, associated with either system, it is vital to choose the system that would satisfy one’s needs from the very beginning. However, for most rural and suburban settings, solar power seems to be the best option due to easier application, absence of movable parts, better reliability, complemented with a warranty of 25 years, less monitoring required, and low maintenance cost (Ferroukhi & Luciani, 2013). Apart from that, photovoltaic system gives higher output of predictable energy, based on NASA and BOM data. The system is also less conspicuous, as compared to wind turbines, and very quiet during operation.
Besides, several local governmental authorities in the UAE are quite averse to allowing erection of wind turbines within townships due to the fact that even the quietest turbines generate certain level of noise. Consequently, these systems may not be well suited, especially to suburban regions, where neighbors might be troubled or complain. Nonetheless, energy analysts argue that wind energy unquestionably has its place and happens to be a significant section of renewable energy mix.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Photovoltaic Systems and Wind Generators
To provide a contrast between operative productivity of photovoltaic systems and that of wind generators, it is necessary for one to delve into the innovation that is used, as well as potential of power that can be gained by a certain type of technology. Among the merits of photovoltaic system are minimal conservation needs. The major role of this system is to tap solar energy and convert it into electrical energy, required for efficiency in operations. Additionally, wind generators often encounter persistent kinetic energy, whereby they encounter tear and wear. Consequently, there is a dire need for continuous overhauling of wind generators. Notably, operating efficiency of photovoltaic system is comparatively advanced than operative efficiency of wind generators. What is more, solar thermal systems lack operational costs.
Applications and Impacts of Topic Systems
Block Diagrams of Off-Grid and Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Systems and Wind Systems
Off-grid solar system
An off-grid solar system refers to a stand-alone power system, which can provide a small community with electricity. It is used when there is no option of grid-tied system. For instance, homeowners who can easily access the grid are highly unlikely to choose off-grid solar systems. The reason for this is that to ensure accessibility to full-time electricity, off-grid solar thermal systems need proper battery storage, as well as a backup generator. In addition to this, there is a need for replacement of a battery bank every ten years. Nonetheless, batteries are known to be complicated and costly; they can decrease overall efficiency of the system.
Grid-tied solar system
Grid-tied, utility-interactive, on-grid, grid back-feeding, and grid intertie are relevant terminologies, used in delineating a similar concept. These refer to a solar system, which is linked to the utility power grid.
Negative Impacts of Photovoltaic Systems and Their Mitigation
Although photovoltaic energy is associated with significant merits, it also has some demerits. First, PV energy is an intermittent source of power, as it cannot be available day-and-night. Its storage is also relatively higher, as compared to other forms of renewable energy. Furthermore, this system requires an inverter to generate alternate current (AC), and there is a need for grid connections for incessant use round-the-clock. Moreover, there are transformative socio-economic outcomes of moving from centralized to disseminated units of power generation. There is an explicit technical advantage in using photovoltaic energy. There are no long-range transmission costs since power is received directly from sunrays. Finally, a dispersed power generation system is highly resilient against extensive outages and terror acts. It might as well imply alteration in models of business for contemporary utilities.
Negative Impacts of Wind Generator Systems and Their Mitigation
Demerits of wind generator systems include variable resources, aesthetics, shadow flicker, sound, impacts of biological resources, construction, as well as radar system. First, turbines generate electricity only when the wind is blowing. Such variability is, therefore, monitored in a similar manner that utilities observe changes in demand every day; this monitoring, however, is compensated by the results achieved. The reality implies that there is a lack of actual alterations in supply of power to end users. Moreover, people may show different reactions every time they observe wind turbines spinning on their landscapes. Some of them see elegant symbols of economic expansion, as well as environmental progress, whereas others may only see industrialized encroachment on rural and natural landscapes. Shadow flicker happens when blades of the rotor cast shadow while spinning. This is the reason why designers of wind farms circumvent the practice of situating turbines in places, where shadow flickers would be problematic, especially for a significant period of time.
Brief Description of Successful Projects
The most prosperous power project in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is Shams Solar thermal power plant. This plant is located in Abu Dhabi; it was instigated in 2013 in partnership with Abengoa and Masdar Solar. For the duration of seventy years, the GCC members have supported the UAE in the effort to expand its energy mix. Profiting from remarkably high intensity of sunshine over expansive desert areas, the market of solar power has exhibited incomparable growth potential. In 2010, local authorities named Abengoa as a leading supplier of concerted solar power solutions. Abengoa has constructed and currently operates the main consolidated solar power plant in GCC in the Middle East region (Bryde, Mouzughi, & Rashīd, 2015). The 100-MW Shams power plant has been in operation since March 2013 till present time. The plant covers the area of 2.5 km2, thus supplying over 20,000 homes with sustainable photovoltaic energy.
The UAE currently represents the largest renewables market in the GCC region, having invested almost $1 bln in wind power projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is envisaged that the total value of wind power projects and their master plans will head for a series of awards between 2016 and 2025 and will amount to $162 bln.
Renewable energy industry of the GCC has shown considerable progress during the time when investors enjoyed FIT subsidy and expressed concerns regarding constrains that may plummet renewable industry into retrogression. There have been massive constructions of pumped storage stations of renewable energy, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This has become a strategy that would cushion the UAE against any deficit during preconceived energy crisis. This is one of the numerous stages, by means of which the Energy Saving Trust tries being proactive in addressing the dynamics, related to the generation of renewable electric energy. Since there is dire need to cut down on unnecessary usage of energy, the Energy Saving Trust undertakes the initiative of encouraging industries in the GCC to venture more into the manufacture of biodegradable products, as they consume less power than the non-biodegradables. This initiative could also bear innumerable benefits, including being environment-friendly. In fact, biodegradable wastes decompose easily and can be used in production of biomass energy. Concerning the hypotheses, suggested for findings of the research on renewable energy systems, all of them have been confirmed in relevant case studies.