Beijing Bergey Windpower is a China-based company that began its operations in 2000. It manufactures small wind turbines and designs and develops renewable energy power systems. It is actively involved in rural electrification projects. Beijing Bergey Windpower is a subsidiary of Bergey Windpower Company in the U.S., the world’s leading supplier of small wind turbines.
The main objective of the project was to electrify the local residents and tourist facilities on the Dongao Island. There are 600 local residents and a growing number of tourists, increasing by 30% annually, that affect the growing energy demand. Currently, the total power consumption on the island is 1 million kWh.
The local government and businesses have initiated the development of green power generation in order to protect the environment. There is no industry on the island except fishing, so, the main application of generated electricity is for the daily life of local residents and tourists. This particular project is a pilot case, but there are thousands of islands in China with similar conditions.
Among the major challenges faced during the project implementation was the small size of island, which means accordingly that there was limited land availability for the installation of wind turbines and a solar panel, and the direct threats imposed to gensets, which so far had been the main energy source on the island. The introduction of a renewable energy smart mini-grid meant that this solution can be replaced by an alternative solution.
Dongao Island is 30km away from the coast. It has excellent wind resources and limited space for a solar panel. Diesel fuel prices are increasing, transportation costs also add to the high operational costs. Therefore, small wind solutions provide a viable alternative. The South China Sea, where the island is located, is a particularly windy area. The experience and knowledge of the local residents on the island helped to estimate the necessary resource availability and the site’s suitability for the installation.
The smart mini-grid power system was installed as a wind-PV-diesel hybrid. It did away completely with the need to use diesel gensets. The system combines 50kW of wind (10kW x 5), 200kW of solar energy and 750kW of diesel genset. A battery bank worth 2000kWh was created. Project planning and design started in 2009, and the first power service was provided in December 2010. At the moment, the project developer – China Singyes Solar Technologies Holdings Limited, a local independent power producer (IPP) – takes care of the operational and maintenance issues, but it might become a business model afterwards when these tasks are contracted to local entrepreneurs, for example.
The total investment reached around USD 5 million, most of it related to the equipment – a solar panel, batteries and wind turbines. The generating costs per kWh are USD 0.47 per kWh. The residents pay USD 0.28, and the rest is subsidised by the local government. To ensure long-term profitability, this model might be re-discussed in the future.
The project provides cleaner energy solutions to local households. In addition, five new resorts will be developed on the island, attracting new visitors and thereby generating additional benefits for the local community. It is not only the tourism industry that benefits from the access to clean energy; the telecom sector uses it too to power its operations. The project has a significantly positive impact on the environment – CO2 emissions will be reduced by 1,500t, SO2 emissions by 45t, and dust by 308t annually. Since this is a pilot project, based on its success and the experiences learned, a similar approach might be expanded elsewhere in China, on islands in particular.