ebm-papst Fans, Blowers and Technology

Solar and wind power: keeping the moving parts cool

Posted on Thu, Dec 12, 2013
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By Todd Cardillo, Market Manager - Industrial Markets

Generating wind and solar power presents an interesting challenge. As energy is generated, other power must be generated to help keep the whole process cool.

In the case of wind power, wind-turbine capacity continues to grow each year, with 6 to 10 megawatts (MW) on the horizon, key power generation components are needed to manage increasing heat within limited nacelle space. The generator, power-conversion electronics and transformers (inverter), gearbox unit, blade pitch motors and tower structure all need to be cooled within a wind-turbine nacelle. Each of these components requires different cooling needs. That’s where ebm-papst Inc.’s wide range of products comes in, Whether it is a small axial fan for blade pitch motor cooling or multiple large impellers to exhaust heat and pressurize an inverter, we provide innovative solutions.

Inverters: the heart of the system
While the infrastructure for solar applications is much less complex than that of the wind sector, there is still a need to convert DC power to AC with an inverter. As a main component in both wind power and photovoltaic (PV) systems, it is important that the inverter function properly to optimize system output. Factors that affect the life cycle of the inverter include:

  • Operating temperatures, which are caused by power loads and ambient conditions

  • Location of the inverter

  • Time of year and day the inverter is operating

  • Size of the wind turbine or solar array involved

Air movers are essential to mitigating heat and improving long-term reliability of wind power and photovoltaic systems. One of our key products, the GreenTech EC fan, provides the ability to remotely monitor operation via the Internet or a modem. All critical information, including speed, motor temperature and operating messages or alarms, can be monitored.

Click here for an overview of our cooling fans and blowers, and download our Alternative Energy brochure to learn more about the different air moving solutions we offer.

Tags: Fans, Solar Power, Wind Power, photovoltaic (PV) systems, Solar Applications, Power generation, Wind Turbine, ebm-papst, GreenTech, energy, Inverters, Alternative Energy

Production Tax Credit Extension - Is One Year Enough?

Posted on Fri, Jan 18, 2013
by Todd Cardillo, Market Manager - Alternative Energy

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President Obama had everyone on their toes last month regarding the Fiscal Cliff, which also included the review of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). In an apparent last minute effort, the president said White House and Senate negotiators have agreed to “extend tax credits for clean-energy companies that are creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

The PTC has been a major driver of wind power development over the past decade. It provides a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for the first ten years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines; however, Congress has repeatedly gone back and forth between expiring and extending the PTC.

Preserving the tax credit is a major triumph for the wind power industry. Critics have argued that the industry is now mature enough to survive without the tax benefit, however, wind producing companies still feel it is important for US infrastructure, and would agree that phasing it out over the next few years would be a much better solution.

Wind companies pushed for a two-year extension, arguing that anything less would provide little certainty to investors in wind projects, but the industry later backed off and supported the extension for just one year. On a positive note, the qualification process was changed in their favor as well. The one year extension now pertains to projects “started” before December 31st, 2013, rather than like in the past, when the project needed to be “producing power” before the projected deadline.

Many projects had been put on hold in 2012 because wind developers knew the PTC was due to expire. The uncertainty caused wind developers to delay their projects, reduce their employees, and even close their doors because of lack of business. Now that the PTC has been extended, companies are dusting off their components, and pushing to get everything back up and running as quick as possible.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates that the PTC extension has protected ~37,000 jobs within this industry, however, we still need to be concerned with the jobs that have been already lost in 2012. In some aspects, the damage has been done, and introduces another important question “Is a one year extension enough”?

Tags: GreenTech, energy, PTC, wind, Energy Efficiency, Alternative Energy

Alternative energy? Germany’s All Over It

Posted on Thu, Oct 04, 2012

Lessons in sun, wind and collaboration power

By Todd Cardillo, Market Manager, Alternative Energy

Did you know that in 40 minutes the sun spills enough energy on the earth’s surface to provide our entire planet with energy for one year? Or that it would take 250 million barrels of oil (10 billion gallons) to generate as much electricity as U.S. wind turbines will generate this year?

Mulfingen 2007 06 17 resized 600Why are we not utilizing our natural resources more effectively? What I saw during a recent trip to ebm-papst’s global headquarters in Mulfingen, Germany offers a vision for what the United States could achieve.

Face time with my German colleagues gave me new information on world market trends in air movement, as well as insight on new projects. I also completed the company’s 17th annual marathon and finished in 1 hour 57 minutes and 12 seconds - my personal best.

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However, what struck me most during this visit was how well Germany utilizes alternative energy. During the two-hour ride from Frankfurt’s airport to headquarters in Mulfingen, I saw multiple wind farms. Set back in the countryside’s rolling hills, the size and infrastructure of these huge turbines are amazing – they’re engineering marvels! It’s hard to believe that people in the United States call these an eyesore, or complain about the noise they emit. These seem like very minor issues compared to the benefits they provide.Solar power is also huge throughout Germany – the country is ranked #1 in the world for solar usage. Bloomberg reports that Germany managed to break its record for new solar installations in 2011 despite sizable reductions in subsidies for the industry.

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It is very hard to drive (or run) through the villagesin Germany without seeing solar panels – they are everywhere! Germany’s large solar farms, commercial businesses and residential homes are all harnessing the sun for electricity. They have spent a lot of time and money to build this infrastructure. Now they’re reaping the benefits of low-cost, clean power.

Incentives play a BIG role in how far Germany has come in alternative energy use. In the United States, where we’re ranked #4 for solar power usage, we have federal tax rebates and similar solar incentives. In contrast   Germany offers manufacturers a fixed amount for every kilowatt-hour of energy produced by a solar system.

While Germany has concerns with the possibility that their solar incentives could be reduced by putting a one gigawatt-per year cap on new installations, we in the U.S. face an uncertain future for our Production Tax Credit (PTC). While the credit is due to expire this year, I am hopeful that it will be renewed by Congress.

The U.S. has come a long way in alternative energy use. Following Germany’s lead, it’s essential we continue to grow our alternative energy production and markets. Our population and economy will be better for it.

Tags: Solar Power, Wind Power, ebm-papst, Energy Efficiency, Alternative Energy, Germany