Florida to Install Wind Turbine Charging Stations

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 18

Harnessing the Power of the Wind to Charge EVs

Harnessing the Power of the Wind to Charge EVs

But the wind doesn’t directly power the chargers.  More on that later.

Mock Up of Sanya Skypump System

Mock Up of Sanya Skypump System

Mills Pond Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida will get 4 charging stations by year’s end.  These chargers are unique in that a wind turbine is basically attached to them.  The turbines extend 55 feet into the air to capture the wind.  The turbines generate electricity, which is sent not to the charging station, but to the Park’s electrical system.

Nothing wrong with that, we just thought it odd that these units were being pitched as wind-powered chargers.

The electricity generating gets sent to the Park’s system and then re-directed where it’s needed.  Some fo the electricity may end up back at the charging station, while some may power lights in restrooms or those hand dryers that generate 100-mph winds themselves.

Apparently, these chargers will become Florida’s first to be connected to wind turbines.  And yes, the turbines are hurricane rated.

The 4 stations will cost $221,000.  All paid for by federal grants.

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18 responses to "Florida to Install Wind Turbine Charging Stations"

  1. Taser54 says:

    Seems to be asking for a lightning strike.

    1. Gary H says:

      That wouldn’t harm the turbine.

  2. Anon says:

    Dunno if Wind Turbines are the way to go in Hurricane Country? Solar in Florida, makes more sense to me. *shrugs*

    1. Brian says:

      Solar? In the Sunshine State? That’s crazy talk.

  3. Brian says:

    How much power are those turbines rated for? How much electricity do they expect to generate in a typical year, and how does that compare to the expected energy used for charging? If they are sized to match, one might reasonably call them “wind-powered chargers” since the wind will have the net effect of offsetting their energy use.

    1. Gary H says:

      That’s a much more succinct way of saying what I was trying to say. Thank you.

  4. Gary H says:

    Are you implying that it is disingenuous to claim that the chargers are powered by the wind because the turbines are connected to the grid? Is this different than a Tesla Supercharger station that will be powered by solar panels?

    The claim can be proved or disproved by comparing the total electricity generated over a period of time (say, a year) to how much electricity is consumed by the chargers. What are the turbines rated for? How much wind is anticipated at the location? What kind of chargers are they? How much will they be used?

    The turbines shouldn’t be tied directly to the chargers, the energy produced at any given time is variable with the wind. The energy coming into a car would fluctuate too much. It’s a good idea to tie them into the grid. The grid instantaneously matches supply with demand. If the chargers aren’t being used at the moment, then fine, use the electricity to supply something else and reduce demand on the conventional power stations.

    If you didn’t tie them to the grid, you would need to condition the power feed with a bank of batteries that would store excess energy and dispense it at a managed rate. But the disadvantage of that is that the energy is locked into a single use. If for example the batteries are maxed out to capacity because not enough people are using the chargers, then excess energy produced by the turbines would be wasted, because it wouldn’t be able to go anywhere else.

  5. kdawg says:

    Wonder if you could stick one of these out int the middle of nowhere, and not tied to the grid, but to a bank of batteries? Maybe 100kWh?

    1. Anon says:

      That would work.

      1. Suprise Cat says:

        Until holiday traffic and 100 cars line up for charging…

        1. kdawg says:

          Good problem to have.

    2. Josh Bryant says:

      I (over) posted below and touched on this. Doable, but probably not sensable.

  6. Rick says:

    Paid for by a federal grant? I wonder if the Chinese are ok with us giving away the money we borrow from them.

    1. Anon says:

      Yeah… Ask them if they like us buying hardware from them, even if it’s “their money”… 😉

  7. Bill Howland says:

    Talk about splitting hairs Eric…… Any electricity generated locally by the wind machines is electricity not necessary to be purchased from the serving utility. Its rather like saying Brian’s Solar panels dont charge his Leaf. In the technical sense that you mean it, no they don’t. But you’d never convince Brian of that.

    The reason splitting hairs generates misconceptions is it gives people the mistaken illusion that the “GRID” is OH! So! Delicate! and the output of wind machines or solar cells must exactly match the load. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are problems in some areas with phase imballance and pwr factor overcorrection trips, but these are technical issues that engineers are paid to effectively address unrelated to the questions as to whether small, locally generated electricity is beneficial, which it almost always is.

    As far as any REAL effect on the “grid”, any localized generation merely looks to the larger grid as people surprisingly not using much juice today anytime the sun is shining/wind is blowing.

  8. Josh Bryant says:

    Since this is a topic I actually do know something about, I will give my $0.02.

    Connecting a turbine directly to a vehicle charger would be a tough situation. The current fluctuation due to atmospheric turbulence would would provide irregular charge rates or controlled derating if at the max charge rate of vehicle. It is very unlikely this turbine has a sophisticated enough control system to even pull anything like this off.

    At a minimum you would need a battery/capacitor bank to buffer the energy during charging. The battery bank would allow you to store energy while charging was not occurring, but would not guarantee that energy is always available for cars to charge with in periods of low wind. In addition you would need to have conversion from AC (turbine), to DC (battery bank), to AC (car charger), reducing the system efficiency. Modern large scale turbine have this type of conversion built into them for advance system control, but a small turbine like this would not have this costly system. It is likely directly grid connecting, rotating at a fixed speed synchronized with the grid frequency.

    Keep in mind that, while the above described solutions are technically feasible and offer a “pure” solution, they are very expensive in terms of cost of energy. A small turbine, with a small/medium battery, and an EVSE would rival the cost of gasoline in lifetime costs.

    The system of buffering with the grid and net metering offers the same offset of energy produced, but reduced the system cost and complexity greatly. This will at least keep the energy going into the vehicles lower than the cost of gas and offset enough grid production to get the environmental benefits.

    As far as siting, wind and solar are probably very close in resource availability in this location. (Any solar experts with local knowledge down there?) The afternoon coastal sea breeze on warm sunny days should provide good energy production when the grid is at its maximum demand. Go inland a few more miles from this site and solar would be a much better option. I have local knowledge from sailing the South Florida inter-coastal as a kid.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      I basically saw a very inexpensive version of what you were talking about at the Penfield (Rochester) NY PlugINAMerica event a few months ago.

      The demonstration was several solar panels (ideally 1200 watts) arranged for around 13-14 volts, charging a large truck battery, then going through a harbor freight 1000 watt inverter to a waiting volt arranged for 110 volts / 8 1/2 amps.

      The solar panels put out about 750 watts so the remaining 300 or so came from the battery. (The cheapie inverter is not 100% efficient, but its not bad).

    2. Bill Howland says:

      The larger wind turbines around here (namely, the 400 horsepower and 1200 horsepower units in Wayne County) are constant speed units just overspeeding induction motors. Their output is 460 volts 3phase, 60 cycle, or whatever Rochester Gas & Electric happens to be supplying at the moment. The harder the wind blows, the more horsepower extracted, period. No inverters or other controls needed. A colocated factory takes all the juice normally, but it is net metered so the utility takes the rest when the wind is blowing after midnight.