WIND SOLUTIONS IN EUROPE
Solving wind intermittency in Europe; Manufacturers and operators are pursuing a number of avenues to solve wind energy’s biggest bugbear…
Jason Deign, 21 January 2011 (Wind Energy Update)
"…[T]he answer to one of wind energy’s most intractable problems could one day be in your garage…[if] using electric car batteries as storage devices for excess wind energy [proves viable]…Dubbed Cars4Grid, the project is the most ambitious of three Gamesa is carrying out to reduce the intermittency of supply to the electrical grid, an issue that has long been seen as the Achilles heel of renewable energy in general and wind power in particular.
"However…the fact that the wind does not blow every day should not be seen as a challenge for renewable energy but rather a challenge for the power distribution model we are used to. It does not rain every day, either; but that has not been a problem for water distribution…"
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"…[Gamesa believes accommodating] a variable supply is not a need that comes from wind power or from renewable energy but from the evolution towards a more modern system of distribution…This more modern system of distribution will likely be the smart grid, a regional or even continental electricity network able to control and route power much more intelligently…making better use of available energy sources to maintain constant supply.
"Much of the success of future smart grids will depend on their ability to tap into distributed power sources such as the car batteries envisaged in the Cars4Grid scheme. In the meantime, Gamesa is focusing on other types of battery development for its other power storage projects…One is a short-term plan to develop electro-chemical batteries based on current technology that will sit alongside individual turbines and provide an immediate storage capability…[They] should be available commercially in the next three years."
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"The final Gamesa storage project… still very much in the initial research and ‘high risk’ phase, is to develop high-capacity flux batteries capable of storing tens of megawatts an hour…These could be used to store excess power from wind farms or over-saturated electricity grid nodes…Xcel Energy…has already developed a wind-to-battery system that can store 7.2 megawatt hours of electricity.
"…Batteries are not the only answer to intermittency, however, and may not even be the best…[T]otal wind energy delivery [can be evened out] by tweaking output rates at the turbine, farm, farm cluster and regional levels…[Output levels would be kept] below the optimum for average conditions, so that if the wind drops turbine throttles can be relaxed and additional turbines, farms or farm clusters can be started up to maintain a constant supply to the grid…Doing this will require turbines and grid systems to be more flexible and responsive… [They are being developed and] could start yielding results this year…"