Making Wind Power More Efficent
A way to make wind power smoother and more efficient that exploits the inertia of a wind turbine rotor could help solve the problem of wind speed variation, according to research published in the International Journal of Power Electronics.
Wind power is being touted as a clean and inexhaustible energy source across the globe, but the wind is intermittent, and changes based on the location and the weather unless the towers are at an extreme height. The means that the power output of wind farms can be variable.
Measures to smooth these power fluctuations usually involve batteries or capacitors to store electricity on good days and release their energy on still days or at times when wind speeds are too high for system stability.Thisof course, does nothing to increase output but simply keeps the flow of power steady.
How significate could wind really be as a source of power in the US? Are we talking about a significant source of power or just a minor one?
A report from the US Department of Energy suggests that installed wind energy capacity could reach 300 gigawatts by 2030 to meet a fifth of the US electricity demand.
Now, Asghar Abedini, Goran Mandic and Adel Nasiri at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Power Electronics and Motor Drives Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, have devised a solution to the electricity grid susceptibility to changes in wind speed, and given us the ability to make these clean power dreams into clean power reality. They can mitigate power fluctuations using the inertia of the wind turbine's rotor as an energy storage component. Basically it is a braking control algorithm that adjusts the rotor speed so that when incoming wind power is greater than the average power, the rotor is allowed to speed up so that it can store the excess energy as kinetic energy rather than generating electricity. This energy is then released when the wind power falls below average.