Small Wind Turbines tested: “Fortis Montana best performance”


Courtesy of Fortis Wind Energy

The market for commercial wind turbines is maturing even as they get bigger and bigger, but the market for small wind turbines is quite young, with some people comparing it to the car industry early in the 19th century. Although some manufacturers have been in the business for over two decades, most suppliers are from this millennium. And that shows.

As in most immature markets, there are cowboys about. Some manufacturers claim energy yields that go beyond the limits of physical possibility. But because there is huge lack of knowledge in the market, there are still plenty of clients who believe these stories. And that is a pity, as one day they will feel betrayed and the whole market will feel the downside of this. To get more objective information about the (im)possibilities of the small wind turbines, several trials have been conducted. In this article we will look at one of them in the Netherlands.

In Schoondijke in the South West corner of The Netherlands a test is being held with small wind turbines. Eleven machines are standing in line in a reasonable open field environment. There are some trees and buildings, but for Western European circumstances it is quite open. The test is being organized by Delta, a utility company, the province of Zeeland, Zeewind as a wind cooperation and Greenlab investment company.

All turbines are standing in line, with the same hub height (12 m) so they can be easily compared. They all feed their electricity in the main grid. Wind speed is measured at one location and averaged per 5 minute interval. The site does not comply to IEC standards for measuring powercurves, but it comes quite close.

The field was opened last year October, and the first turbines came in one month later. The first conclusion was that is proved difficult to fill the 11 locations. Some manufactures did not want to participate in the test, and for others it seemed difficult to install a working model.

Because of these delays the windy winter period was not included in the official test period, which was from the 1st of April until the 30th of September. A pity, because the Montana showed that in the first 3 months of 2008 1453kWh was produced at 4.5 m/s average wind speed. That’s an average of 16 units per day. In the 6 months official testing period over the calm summer from April to September the Montana averaged about 8 units per day in 3.5m/s wind. Peak production by the Fortis Montana was in week 4 with 30 kWh per day at 6.5 m/s average wind speed.

The whole summer period can be characterized as one with low winds and quite often coming from the East. East wind is gusty and low in speed on lower altitudes. So all in all it was not a good period for showing high results.

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