14 March 2014
Making the most of windy
Windy Wellington is providing the perfect
backdrop for two postgraduate students from Victoria
University to research the potential of wind power.
Akinyele and Hatem Alzaanin are part of a newly formed and
rapidly expanding power and renewable energy systems
research group led by Dr Ramesh Rayudu at Victoria’s
School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Hatem are poised to raise the profile of the group’s work
after scooping the only two available sponsorships to attend
and present their research at the New Zealand Wind Energy
Conference and Exhibition taking place in Wellington in
Dr Rayudu is excited two of his group will have a
chance to present at the conference.
“It’s a great
achievement for both of these scholarships to have gone to
Victoria students—it shows we are becoming known as a
centre of excellence in renewable energy and particularly
Daniel, a PhD student originally from
Nigeria, is researching the use of micro-grids in
Wellington. A micro-grid is a small scale power generator
such as a solar panel or wind turbine that could be located
on residential or commercial buildings. They can be
connected to the main network or operated
Daniel is investigating how micro-grids can
provide extra power to the network during peak times and act
as a back-up source of energy should the main network go
down after a natural disaster.
“In a major
earthquake,” says Daniel, “Wellington could be left
without power for days or weeks. If we had a network of
micro-grids, the impact could be much less severe,” says
The biggest challenge, however, says Daniel is
making it attractive to home and business owners to install
a small power generator such as a wind turbine.
need financial incentives to help people cover the cost of
installation,” he says.
Hatem’s research also
recognises the need to make it easy for people to become
more energy efficient.
Hatem, a Palestinian student in the
final year of his Master’s degree, is looking at smart use
of appliances to balance the fluctuating energy levels
produced by wind. He says any solutions his research comes
up with will only work if they are convenient for people to
One focus for Hatem is looking at how to run
appliances in the most energy-efficient way.
for example, don’t need to be running all the time to keep
food frozen. Domestic devices account for around 11 percent
of power loads. Many people would be surprised at how much
power can be saved by using appliances more
While both students’ presentations will
focus on New Zealand, their research has the potential to
also be used further afield.
Daniel, for example, is
investigating how micro-grid technology could be used in
less developed regions such as his home country of Nigeria
where around 60 percent of the country does not have access
Daniel and Hatem were selected by
Transpower to receive scholarships to the New Zealand Wind
Energy Conference and Exhibition which takes place from
14—16 April at Te Papa in