The village-size experimental system, which began operating in 1992, has a programmable 117.5 kW peak demand community load simulator and a 190.5 kW dump load, both of which consist of resistive elements. The simulation has a penetration capability of 2:2 (the ratio of wind turbine installed capacity to peak demand). The heart of the system is a programmable logic controller (PLC) system which provides dynamic stability while automatically following variable community load, to maximise wind generation and economise on diesel fuel and power by suitable generator dispatch. The PLC allows wind turbines to supply the entire load at periods of high wind output or low demand, when the diesel generators would be shut down. To date, the system has operated for several hours with complete diesel shutdown and a simulated demand of 20 kW. Installed as a community system, wind-only operation would occur for extended periods of several hours, whenever sufficient wind energy is available to supply the normal electrical load.
The PLC allows excess wind energy production to be dissipated through the dump load, which maintains stability through a frequency controller. When implemented, the dump load would comprise interruptible electric heating to displace fuel used for heating. The absence of a battery storage system reduces wind-diesel system costs and should contribute to economic feasibility. Such high penetration wind-diesel systems are expected to reduce diesel fuel usage by as much as 67% and decrease electricity costs by CDN$0.08-0.10/kWh.
After validation trials and further economic modelling, an actual village system will be designed in 1995 and demonstrated in a remote Quebec community in 1996-97. A number of remote sites in Quebec could host such a wind-diesel system, including the wind swept Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Significantly, Hydro Quebec on July 12 named Kenetech of California and its Quebec partner, Arno Electrique, as the winning proponents for a 5 MW wind farm, to be paired with the local diesel system which as a peak demand of 35 MW.
While specialising in wind-diesel research, AWTS also has test beds to monitor turbine performance. In addition to a Dutch Lagerwey turbine, installed in 1986 in the remote northern community of Kuujjuaq which has generated 405,000 kWh through December 1993, an Atlantic Orient 15/50 with a tilt-up tower is currently being tested. AWTS, which also performs wind resource assessments, design evaluation and certification, and project management, is operated by Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation with funding from NRCan, the government of Prince Edward Island and contract research.