Gamesa aims to cut off-grid generation costs by 40 percent, compared to diesel, using a system that combines traditional gensets with wind, solar and storage. 

The Spanish turbine maker said early tests showed its off-grid system could achieve renewable energy generation rates of up to 90 percent on days with high wind and solar resource.

Gamesa began operating a 2+ megawatt prototype of the system with batteries at the beginning of November.

The prototype, which combines an 850-kilowatt G52 turbine with 245 kilowatts of PV, three 222-kilowatt diesel gensets and a 429-kilowatt/500-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, was originally launched, without energy storage, in May this year. 

The system is controlled by a Gamesa software package called the Hybrid Power Controller, which takes care of battery charging and discharging, shutdown and startup of the diesel gensets, and switching between wind and solar power generation modes.

“This off-grid prototype is the first to market to enable the ad-hoc combination of each of the technologies installed depending on specific project requirements, with the ultimate goal of generating off-grid power that minimizes diesel consumption,” said Gamesa in a press release.

In a written statement, the company told GTM it was “currently exploring different commercial opportunities” for the system, which is being tested at Gamesa’s wind center at La Muela, in the northern Spanish province of Zaragoza.

Spanish news reports earlier this year claimed Gamesa was looking to make €500 million ($544 million) from sales of off-grid systems by 2020.

The company said it estimated global demand for off-grid renewable energy systems would amount to 1.2 gigawatts in 2020, of which 800 megawatts would come from solar and 400 megawatts would come from wind.

“The aim in Gamesa’s 2015-2017 business plan is to become a reference player in this segment,” said the company. 

Gamesa, which has shareholder approval for a merger with Siemens Wind Power, is aiming to diversify away from its core turbine manufacturing business and expects to start generating revenues from “complementary businesses” by 2018.

The company has been experimenting with off-grid systems since 2007, when it installed a hybrid wind and diesel generation center on San Cristóbal, in the Galapagos Islands.

The hybrid system features three turbines, totaling 2.4 megawatts, along with three diesel generators with a total capacity of 1.8 megawatts. It allows 36 percent of the island’s total energy consumption to be covered by wind.

Gamesa announced testing of its wind, solar, battery and diesel hybrid in December 2015. While the company would not say which battery supplier it was using for the prototype, it is understood the system could be vendor-agnostic for storage.

“The estimated battery lifespan is at least 10 years, and there are different suppliers with proven experience in the market,” said the company. 

It also appears the system could be equipped with varying levels of storage depending on project requirements.

Interest in hybrid renewable energy systems for off-grid generation is high among island communities and mining companies with operations far from any grid connection. 

As a result, a number of hybrid projects have been developed in Australia, where mining accounts for 54 percent of total goods and services revenues, and up to around 7 percent of total gross domestic product. 

In October it emerged that a joint venture between Eurus Energy Holdings of Japan and Windlab of Australia is building a hybrid wind, solar and storage plant to complement grid supplies to a remote mining community called Hughenden, in north Queensland. 

Previously, Galaxy Resources had operated a wind, solar and diesel hybrid plant at its Mount Cattlin lithium mine, which closed in 2013. And a PV, storage and diesel hybrid system is in operation at the DeGrussa copper and gold mine owned by Sandfire Resources.

PV and diesel hybrids, meanwhile, are also in use at Cronimet’s Bushveld Complex in Limpopo, South Africa, and Shanta Gold’s New Luika Gold Mine in Tanzania, according to THEnergy