wind turbine blade

Pairing wind farms with conventional power stations could stabilise wind power

Researchers from the University of Connecticut have been trialling an approach to integrating wind generation by pairing wind farms with conventional power stations.

While geothermal power is reaped near tectonic plate boundaries and solar parks are built in sunny countries, the blustery British Isles have not yet harnessed the full potential of wind power. This is largely thanks to the unreliability of wind power, which can only be generated when the wind blows strongly enough to turn turbine blades.

However, a new “two-prong” approach suggested by the University of Connecticut team, working alongside ABB Inc, could ensure that wind power remains an attractive option for governments looking to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy resources.

“Wind farms are often located in remote locations with high-output wind resources, far from cities, where electricity demand is high,” said Professor Bing Yan, an author of the study from the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Connecticut.

“Our idea is to pair each remote wind farm with a sufficiently large and not necessarily co-located conventional unit.”

Professor Yan and her team created an algorithm to virtually “relocate” traditional power generation units to wind farms. This computational reduction in separation would mean that energy suppliers would not be so reliant on expensive batteries to store reserve power while the wind is blowing.

“The basic idea is to divide power generation of conventional units into two components,” the researchers write.

One component uses the current state of the wind to estimate how the wind will blow in the future, while the other component provides limitations for extreme wind. This approach is based on observations of hysteresis – the dependence on past states – in lithium batteries.

The researchers tested this approach using a simulation to pair wind farms with conventional power generation units, and found that they could accurately and efficiently produce power consistent with expected wind states, but also make easy adjustments when expectations were not met.

“Grid integration of wind power is essentially to reduce fossil fuel usage, but challenging in view of the intermittent nature of wind,” said Professor Yan.

“Our approach provides an efficient way to dampen the effects of wind uncertainties.”

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